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Full text of "The works of Robert Louis Stevenson"

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*toi>± 






National Library of Scotland 
*B000297143* 



This Edinburgh Edition consists of 

one thousand and thirty-jive copies 

all numbered 






Vol. VII. of issue : May 1895 



THE WORKS OF 

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 

EDINBURGH EDITION 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 

National Library of Scotland 



http://www.archive.org/details/morenewarabianOOstev 



THE WORKS OF 

ROBERT LOUIS 
STEVENSON 

TALES AND FANTASIES 
VOLUME II 




EDINBURGH 

PRINTED BY T. AND A. CONSTABLE FOR 

LONGMANS GREEN AND CO: CASSELL AND CO. 

SEELEY AND CO : CHAS. SCRIBNER'S SONS 

AND SOLD BY CHATTO AND WINDUS 

PICCADILLY : LONDON 

1895 



r 



*&uJiS 



MORE NEW 

ARABIAN NIGHTS 

THE DYNAMITER 



THE STORY OF 
A LIE 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

THE DYNAMITER .... 1 

THE STORY OF A LIE . . . . 293 



MORE NEW 

ARABIAN NIGHTS: 

THE DYNAMITER 

WRITTEN IN COLLABORATION 
WITH 

MRS. STEVENSON 



7-a 



First edition : 

Longmans, Green and Co., 1883. 



TO 

Messrs. COLE AND COX 

POLICE OFFICERS 

Gentlemen, 

In the "volume now in your hands, the authors have 
touched upon that ugly devil of crime, with which it is your 
glory to have contended. It were a waste of ink to do so in a 
serious spirit. Let us dedicate our horror to acts of a more 
mingled strain, where crime preserves some features of 'nobility, 
and where reason and humanity can still relish the temptation. 
Horror, in this case, is due to Mr. Parnell: he sits before 
posterity silent, Mr. Forster's appeal echoing down the ages. 
Horror is due to ourselves, in that we have so long coquetted 
with political crime ; not seriously weighing, not acutely follow- 
ing it from cause to consequence; but with a generous, un- 
founded heat of sentiment, like the schoolboy with the penny 
tale, applauding what was specious. When it touched ourselves 
{truly in a vile shape), we proved false to these imaginations ; 
discovered, in a clap, that crime was no less cruel and no less 
ugly under sounding names; and recoiled from our false 
deities. 

But seriousness comes most in place when we are to speak of 

3 



THE DYNAMITER 

our defenders. Whoever he in the right in this great and con- 
fused war of politics; whatever elements of greed, whatever 
traits of the bully, dishonour both parties in this inhuman 
contest; — your side, your part, is at least pure of doubt. 
Yours is the side of the child, of the breeding woman, of 
individual pity and public trust. If our society were the mere 
kingdom of the devil {as indeed it wears some of his colours) 
it yet embraces many precious elements and many innocent 
persons whom it is a glory to defend. Courage and devotion, 
so common in the ranks of the police, so little recognised, so 
meagrely rewarded, have at length found their commemoration 
in an historical act. History, which will represent Mr. Parnell 
sitting silent under the appeal of Mr. Forster, and Gordon 
setting forth upon his tragic enterprise, will not forget Mr. Cole 
carrying the dynamite in his d fenceless hands, nor Mr. Cox 
coming coolly to his aid. 

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON. 
FANNY FAN BE GRIFT STEVENSON. 



CONTENTS 

Dedication 

Prologue of the Cigar Divan . 

Challoner's Adventure : The Squire of Dames 

Story of the Destroying Angel . 

The Squire of Dames (concluded) 

Somerset's Adventure : The Superfluous 
Mansion .... 

Narrative of the Spirited Old Lady 
The Superfluous Mansion (continued) . 

Zero's Tale of the Explosive Bomb 
The Superfluous Mansion (continued) . 
Desborough's Adventure : The Brown Box 

Story of the Fair Cuban 
The Brown Box (concluded) 
The Superfluous Mansion (concluded) . 
Epilogue of the Cigar Divan . 



3 

7 

17 
29 
73 

95 
102 
137 
171 
183 
196 
204 
251 
267 
280 



A NOTE FOR THE READER 

It is within the bounds of possibility that you 
may take up this volume, and yet be unacquainted 
with its predecessor : the jirst series of ' New 
Arabian Nights? The loss is yours — and mine ; 
or, to be more exact, my publishers' 1 . But if you 
are thus unlucky, the least I can do is to pass you a 
hint. When you shall Jind a reference in the fol- 
lowing pages to one Theophilus Godall, of the 
Bohemian Cigar Divan in Rupert Street, Soho, 
you must be prepared to recognise under Ms 
features no less a person than Prince Florizel of 
Bohemia, formerly one of the magnates qf Europe, 
nozv dethroned, exiled, impoverished, and embarked 
in the tobacco trade. 

R. L. S. 



PROLOGUE OF THE CIGAR DIVAN 

In the city of encounters, the Bagdad of the West, 
and, to be more precise, on the broad northern 
pavement of Leicester Square, two young men of 
five- or six-and-twenty met after years of separation. 
The first, who was of a very smooth address, and 
clothed in the best fashion, hesitated to recognise 
the pinched and shabby air of his companion. 

« What ! ' he cried, * Paul Somerset ! ' 

' 1 am indeed Paul Somerset,' returned the other, 
'or what remains of him after a well-deserved ex- 
perience of poverty and law. But in you, Challoner, 
I can perceive no change; and time may be said, 
without hyperbole, to write no wrinkle on your azure 
brow.' 

'All,' replied Challoner, ' is not gold that glitters. 
But we are here in an ill posture for confidences, and 
interrupt the movement of these ladies. Let us, if 
you please, find a more private corner.' 

'If you will allow me to guide you,' replied 
Somerset, ' I will offer you the best cigar in London.' 

And taking the arm of his companion, he led him 
in silence and at a brisk pace to the door of a quiet 

7 



THE DYNAMITER 

establishment in Rupert Street, Soho. The entrance 
was adorned with one of those gigantic Highlanders 
of wood which have almost risen to the standing of 
antiquities ; and across the window-glass, which 
sheltered the usual display of pipes, tobacco, and 
cigars, there ran the gilded legend : * Bohemian Cigar 
Divan, by T. Godall.' The interior of the shop was 
small, but commodious and ornate ; the salesman 
grave, smiling, and urbane ; and the two young men, 
each puffing a select regalia, had soon taken their 
places on a sofa of mouse-coloured plush, and pro- 
ceeded to exchange their stories. 

' I am now,' said Somerset, ' a barrister ; but 
Providence and the attorneys have hitherto denied 
me the opportunity to shine. A select society at 
the Cheshire Cheese engaged my evenings ; my 
afternoons, as Mr. Godall could testify, have been 
generally passed in this divan ; and my mornings, I 
have taken the precaution to abbreviate by not rising 
before twelve. At this rate, my little patrimony 
was very rapidly, and, I am proud to remember, most 
agreeably expended. Since then a gentleman, who 
has really nothing else to recommend him beyond 
the fact of being my maternal uncle, deals me the 
small sum of ten shillings a week ; and if you behold 
me once more revisiting the glimpses of the street- 
lamps in my favourite quarter, you will readily divine 
that I have come into a fortune.' 

' I should not have supposed so,' replied Challoner. 
'But doubtless I met you on the way to your 
tailors.' 
8 



THE CIGAR DIVAN 

' It is a visit that I purpose to delay,' returned 
Somerset, with a smile. 'My fortune has definite 
limits. It consists, or rather this morning it con- 
sisted, of one hundred pounds.' 

* That is certainly odd,' said Challoner ; ' yes, 
certainly the coincidence is strange. I am myself 
reduced to the same margin.' 

* You ! ' cried Somerset. ' And yet Solomon in 
all his glory ' 

' Such is the fact. I am, dear boy, on my last 
legs,' said Challoner. * Besides the clothes in which 
you see me, I have scarcely a decent trouser in my 
wardrobe ; and if I knew how, I would this instant 
set about some sort of work or commerce. With a 
hundred pounds for capital, a man should push his 
way.' 

' It may be,' returned Somerset ; ' but what to do 
with mine is more than I can fancy. — Mr. Godall,' 
he added, addressing the salesman, * you are a man 
who knows the world : what can a young fellow of 
reasonable education do with a hundred pounds ? ' 

'It depends,' replied the salesman, withdrawing 
his cheroot. ' The power of money is an article of 
faith in which I profess myself a sceptic. A hundred 
pounds will with difficulty support you for a year ; 
with somewhat more difficulty you may spend it in 
a night ; and without any difficulty at all you may 
lose it in five minutes on the Stock Exchange. If 
you are of that stamp of man that rises, a penny 
would be as useful ; if you belong to those that fall, 
a penny would be no more useless. When I was 

9 



THE DYNAMITER 

myself thrown unexpectedly upon the world, it was 
my fortune to possess an art : I knew a good cigar. 
Do you know nothing, Mr. Somerset ? ' 

' Not even law,' was the reply. 

'The answer is worthy of a sage,' returned Mr. 
Godall. — 'And you, sir,' he continued, turning to 
Challoner, * as the friend of Mr. Somerset, may I be 
allowed to address you the same question ? ' 

' Well,' replied Challoner, ' I play a fair hand at 
whist' 

' How many persons are there in London,' returned 
the salesman, ' who have two-and-thirty teeth ? 
Believe me, young gentleman, there are more still 
who play a fair hand at whist. Whist, sir, is wide 
as the world ; 'tis an accomplishment like breathing. 
I once knew a youth who announced that he was 
studying to be Chancellor of England; the design 
was certainly ambitious ; but I find it less excessive 
than that of the man who aspires to make a liveli- 
hood by whist.' 

'Dear me,' said Challoner, 'I am afraid I shall 
have to fall to be a working man.' 

' Fall to be a working man ? ' echoed Mr. Godall. 
' Suppose a rural dean to be unfrocked, does he fall 
to be a major ? suppose a captain were cashiered, 
would he fall to be a puisne judge? The ignorance 
of your middle class surprises me. Outside itself, it 
thinks the world to lie quite ignorant and equal, 
sunk in a common degradation ; but to the eye of 
the observer, all ranks are seen to stand in ordered 
hierarchies, and each adorned with its particular 
10 



THE CIGAR DIVAN 

aptitudes and knowledge. By the defects of your 
education you are more disqualified to be a working 
man than to be the ruler of an empire. The gulf, 
sir, is below ; and the true learned arts — those which 
alone are safe from the competition of insurgent 
laymen — are those which give his title to the artisan.' 

' This is a very pompous fellow,' said Challoner in 
the ear of his companion. 

' He is immense,' said Somerset. 

Just then the door of the divan was opened, and a 
third young fellow made his appearance, and rather 
bashfully requested some tobacco. He was younger 
than the others ; and, in a somewhat meaningless 
and altogether English way, he was a handsome lad. 
When he had been served, and had lighted his pipe 
and taken his place upon the sofa, he recalled him- 
self to Challoner by the name of Desborough. 

* Desborough, to be sure,' cried Challoner. * Well, 
Desborough, and what do you do ? ' 

'The fact is,' said Desborough, 'that I am doing 
nothing.' 

' A private fortune possibly 1 ' inquired the other. 

' Well, no,' replied Desborough, rather sulkily. ' The 
fact is that I am waiting for something to turn up.' 

' All *in the same boat ! ' cried Somerset. ' And 
have you, too, one hundred pounds ? ' 

' Worse luck,' said Mr. Desborough. 

'This is a very pathetic sight, Mr. Godall,' said 
Somerset : ' three futiles.' 

'A character of this crowded age,' returned the 
salesman. 

ii 



THE DYNAMITER 

'Sir,' said Somerset, *I deny that the age is 
crowded ; I will admit one fact, and one fact only : 
that I am futile, that he is futile, and that we are 
all three as futile as the devil. What am I ? I 
have smattered law, smattered letters, smattered 
geography, smattered mathematics ; I have even a 
working knowledge of judicial astrology ; and here 
I stand, all London roaring by at the street's end, 
as impotent as any baby. I have a prodigious 
contempt for my maternal uncle ; but without him, 
it is idle to deny it, J should simply resolve into my 
elements like an unstable mixture. I begin to 
perceive that it is necessary to know some one thing 
to the bottom — were it only literature. And yet, 
sir, the man of the world is a great feature of this 
age ; he is possessed of an extraordinary mass and 
variety of knowledge ; he is everywhere at home ; 
he has seen life in all its phases ; and it is impossible 
but that this great habit of existence should bear 
fruit. I count myself a man of the world, accom- 
plished, cap-a-pie. So do you, Challoner. And you, 
Mr. Desborough ? ' 

* O yes,' returned the young man. 

' Well then, Mr. Godall, here we stand, three men 
of the world, without a trade to cover us, but 
planted at the strategic centre of the universe (for 
so you will allow me to call Rupert Street), in the 
midst of the chief mass of people, and within ear- 
shot of the most continuous chink of money on the 
surface of the globe. Sir, as civilised men, what do 
we do ? I will show you. You take in a paper ? ' 
12 



THE CIGAR DIVAN 

' I take/ said Mr. Godall solemnly, ' the best paper 
in the world, the Standard.' 

' Good,' resumed Somerset. ' I now hold it in my 
hand, the voice of the world, a telephone repeating all 
men's wants. I open it, and where my eye first falls- 
well, no, not Morrison's Pills— but here, sure enough, 
and but a little above, I find the joint that I was 
seeking; here is the weak spot in the armour of 
society. Here is a want, a plaint, an offer of substan- 
tial gratitude : " Two Hundred Pounds Reward. — 
The above reward will be paid to any person giving 
information as to the identity and whereabouts of a 
man observed yesterday in the neighbourhood of the 
Green Park. He was over six feet in height, with 
shoulders disproportionately broad, close shaved, with 
black moustaches, and wearing a sealskin great-coat." 
There, gentlemen, our fortune, if not made, is founded.' 

' Do you then propose, dear boy, that we should 
turn detectives ? ' inquired Challoner. 

' Do I propose it ? No, sir,' cried Somerset. ' It 
is reason, destiny, the plain face of the world, that 
commands and imposes it. Here all our merits 
tell; our manners, habit of the world, powers of 
conversation, vast stores of unconnected knowledge, 
all that we are and have builds up the character of 
the complete detective. It is, in short, the only 
profession for a gentleman.' 

'The proposition is perhaps excessive,' replied 
Challoner ; ' for hitherto I own I have regarded it 
as of all dirty, sneaking, and ungentlemanly trades, 
the least and lowest.' 

!3 



THE DYNAMITER 

* To defend society ? ' asked Somerset ; ' to stake 
one's life for others ? to deracinate occult and power- 
ful evil? I appeal to Mr. Godall. He, at least, 
as a philosophic looker-on at life, will spit upon such 
philistine opinions. He knows that the policeman, 
as he is called upon continually to face greater odds, 
and that both worse equipped and for a better cause, 
is in form and essence a more noble hero than the 
soldier. Do you, by any chance, deceive yourself 
into supposing that a general would either ask or 
expect, from the best army ever marshalled, and on 
the most momentous battlefield, the conduct of a 
common constable at Peckham Rye ? ' 1 

' I did not understand we were to join the force,' 
said Challoner. 

' Nor shall we. These are the hands ; but here — 
here, sir, is the head,' cried Somerset. * Enough ; it 
is decreed. We shall hunt down this miscreant in 
the sealskin coat.' 

* Suppose that we agreed,' retorted Challoner, ' you 
have no plan, no knowledge ; you know not where 
to seek for a beginning.' 

* Challoner ! ' cried Somerset, * is it possible that 
you hold the doctrine of Free Will ? And are you 

1 Hereupon the Arabian author enters on one of his digressions. Fear- 
ing, apparently, that the somewhat eccentric views of Mr. Somerset 
should throw discredit on a part of truth, he calls upon the English 
people to remember with more gratitude the services of the police ; to 
what unobserved and solitary acts of heroism they are called ; against 
what odds of numbers and of arms, and for how small a reward, either 
in fame or money : matter, it has appeared to the translators, too serious 
for this place. 

H 



THE CIGAR DIVAN 

devoid of any tincture of philosophy, that you should 
harp on such exploded fallacies ? Chance, the blind 
Madonna of the Pagan, rules this terrestrial bustle ; 
and in Chance I place my sole reliance. Chance has 
brought us three together ; when we next separate 
and go forth our several ways, Chance will continually 
drag before our careless eyes a thousand eloquent 
clues, not to this mystery only, but to the countless 
mysteries by which we live surrounded. Then comes 
the part of the man of the world, of the detective born 
and bred. This clue, which the whole town beholds 
without comprehension, swift as a cat, he leaps upon 
it, makes it his, follows it with craft and passion, and 
from one trifling circumstance divines a world.' 

* Just so,' said Challoner ; * and I am delighted 
that you should recognise these virtues in yourself. 
But in the meanwhile, dear boy, I own myself in- 
capable of joining. I was neither born nor bred as 
a detective, but as a placable and very thirsty gentle- 
man ; and, for my part, I begin to weary for a drink. 
As for clues and adventures, the only adventure that 
is ever likely to occur to me will be an adventure 
with a bailiff.' 

' Now there is the fallacy,' cried Somerset. ' There 
I catch the secret of your futility in life. The world 
teems and bubbles with adventure ; it besieges you 
along the street ; hands waving out of windows, 
swindlers coming up and swearing they knew you 
when you were abroad, affable and doubtful people 
of all sorts and conditions begging and truckling for 
your notice. But not you : you turn away, you 

15 



THE DYNAMITER 

walk your seedy mill round, you must go the dullest 
way. Now here, I beg of you, the next adventure 
that offers itself, embrace it in with both your arms ; 
whatever it looks, grimy or romantic, grasp it. I 
will do the like ; the devil is in it, but at least we 
shall have fun ; and each in turn we shall narrate the 
story of our fortunes to my philosophic friend of the 
divan, the great Godall, now hearing me with inward 
joy. Come, is it a bargain ? Will you, indeed, both 
promise to welcome every chance that offers, to plunge 
boldly into every opening, and, keeping the eye wary 
and the head composed, to study and piece together 
all that happens ? Come, promise : let me open to 
you the doors of the great profession of intrigue.' 

* It is not much in my way,' said Challoner, ' but, 
since you make a point of it, amen.' 

' I don't mind promising,' said Desborough, ' but 
nothing will happen to me.' 

' O faithless ones ! ' cried Somerset. ' But at least 
I have your promises ; and Godall, I perceive, is 
transported with delight.' 

' I promise myself at least much pleasure from 
your various narratives,' said the salesman, with the 
customary calm polish of his manner. 

'And now, gentlemen,' concluded Somerset, 'let 
us separate. I hasten to put myself in fortune's 
way. Hark how, in this quiet corner, London roars 
like the noise of battle ; four million destinies are 
here concentred ; and in the strong panoply of one 
hundred pounds, payable to the bearer, I am about 
to plunge into that web.' 
16 



THE SQUIRE OF DAMES 



CHALLONERS ADVENTURE: THE 
SQUIRE OF DAMES 

Mr. Edward Challoner had set up lodgings in 
the suburb of Putney, where he enjoyed a parlour 
and bedroom and the sincere esteem of the people of 
the house. To this remote home he found himself, 
at a very early hour in the morning of the next day, 
condemned to set forth on foot. He was a young 
man of a portly habit ; no lover of the exercises of 
the body ; bland, sedentary, patient of delay, a prop 
of omnibuses. In happier days he would have 
chartered a cab ; but these luxuries were now denied 
him ; and with what courage he could muster he 
addressed himself to walk. 

It was then the height of the season and the 
summer ; the weather was serene and cloudless ; and 
as he paced under the blinded houses and along the 
vacant streets, the chill of the dawn had fled, and 
some of the warmth and all the brightness of the 
July day already shone upon the city. He walked 
at first in a profound abstraction, bitterly reviewing 
and repenting his performances at whist ; but as he 
advanced into the labyrinth of the south-west, his 
ear was gradually mastered by the silence. Street 
7— b 17 



THE DYNAMITER 

after street looked down upon his solitary figure, 
house after house echoed upon his passage with a 
ghostly jar, shop after shop displayed its shuttered 
front and its commercial legend ; and meanwhile he 
steered his course, under day's effulgent dome and 
through this encampment of diurnal sleepers, lonely 
as a ship. 

6 Here,' he reflected, * if I were like my scatter- 
brained companion, here were indeed the scene where 
I might look for an adventure. Here, in broad day, 
the streets are secret as in the blackest night of 
January, and in the midst of some four million 
sleepers, solitary as the woods of Yucatan. If I but 
raise my voice I could summon up the number of an 
army, and yet the grave is not more silent than this 
city of sleep.' 

He was still following these quaint and serious 
musings when he came into a street of more mingled 
ingredients than was common in the quarter. Here, 
on the one hand, framed in walls and the green tops 
of trees, were several of those discreet, bijou resi- 
dences on which propriety is apt to look askance. 
Here, too, were many of the brick-fronted barracks 
of the poor ; a plaster cow, perhaps, serving as 
ensign to a dairy, or a ticket announcing the business 
of the mangier. Before one such house, that stood 
a little separate among walled gardens, a cat was 
playing with a straw, and Challoner paused a 
moment, looking on this sleek and solitary creature, 
who seemed an emblem of the neighbouring peace. 
With the cessation of the sound of his own steps the 



THE SQUIRE OF DAMES 

silence fell dead ; the house stood smokeless ; the 
blinds down, the whole machinery of life arrested ; 
and it seemed to Challoner that he should hear the 
breathing of the sleepers. 

As he so stood, he was startled by a dull and jar- 
ring detonation from within. This was followed by 
a monstrous hissing and simmering as from a kettle 
of the bigness of St. Paul's ; and at the same time 
from every chink of door and window spurted an 
ill-smelling vapour. The cat disappeared with a 
cry. Within the lodging-house feet pounded on the 
stairs ; the door flew back, emitting clouds of smoke ; 
and two men and an elegantly dressed young lady 
tumbled forth into the street and fled without a 
word. The hissing had already ceased, the smoke 
was melting in the air, the whole event had come 
and gone as in a dream, and still Challoner was 
rooted to the spot. At last his reason and his fear 
awoke together, and with the most unwonted energy 
he fell to running. 

Little by little this first dash relaxed, and presently 
he had resumed his sober gait and begun to piece to- 
gether, out of the confused report of his senses, some 
theory of the occurrence. But the occasion of the 
sounds and stench that had so suddenly assailed him, 
and the strange conjunction of fugitives whom he 
had seen to issue from the house, were mysteries 
beyond his plummet. With an obscure awe he con- 
sidered them in his mind, continuing, meanwhile, to 
thread the web of streets, and once more alone in 
morning sunshine. 

l 9 



THE DYNAMITER 

In his first retreat he had entirely wandered ; and 
now, steering vaguely west, it was his luck to light 
upon an unpretending street, which presently widened 
so as to admit a strip of gardens in the midst. Here 
was quite a stir of birds ; even at that hour, the 
shadow of the leaves was grateful ; instead of the 
burnt atmosphere of cities, there was something 
brisk and rural in the air ; and Challoner paced for- 
ward, his eyes upon the pavement and his mind 
running upon distant scenes, till he was recalled, 
upon a sudden, by a wall that blocked his further 
progress. This street, whose name I have forgotten, 
is no thoroughfare. 

He was not the first who had wandered there that 
morning ; for, as he raised his eyes with an agreeable 
deliberation, they alighted on the figure of a girl, in 
whom he was struck to recognise the third of the 
incongruous fugitives. She had run there, seem- 
ingly, blindfold ; the wall had checked her career ; 
and being entirely wearied, she had sunk upon the 
ground beside the garden railings, soiling her dress 
among the summer dust. Each saw the other in 
the same instant of time ; and she, with one wild 
look, sprang to her feet and began to hurry from the 
scene. 

Challoner was doubly startled to meet once more 
the heroine of his adventure and to observe the fear 
with which she shunned him. Pity and alarm, in 
nearly equal forces, contested the possession of his 
mind ; and yet, in spite of both, he saw himself con- 
demned to follow in the lady's wake. He did so 
20 



THE SQUIRE OF DAMES 

gingerly, as fearing to increase her terrors ; but, 
tread as lightly as he might, his footfalls eloquently 
echoed in the empty street. Their sound appeared 
to strike in her some strong emotion ; for scarce 
had he begun to follow ere she paused. A second 
time she addressed herself to flight ; and a second 
time she paused. Then she turned about, and, with 
doubtful steps and the most attractive appearance of 
timidity, drew near to the young man. He on his 
side continued to advance with similar signals of 
distress and bashfulness. At length, when they 
were but some steps apart, he saw her eyes brim 
over, and she reached out both her hands in eloquent 
appeal. 

' Are you an English gentleman ? ' she cried. 

The unhappy Challoner regarded her with con- 
sternation. He was the spirit of fine courtesy, and 
would have blushed to fail in his devoirs to any lady ; 
but, in the other scale, he was a man averse from 
amorous adventures. He looked east and west ; but 
the houses that looked down upon this interview 
remained inexorably shut ; and he saw himself, 
though in the full glare of the day's eye, cut off 
from any human intervention. His looks returned 
at last upon the suppliant. He remarked with 
irritation that she was charming both in face and 
figure, elegantly dressed and gloved : a lady undeni- 
able ; the picture of distress and innocence ; weeping 
and lost in the city of diurnal sleep. 

' Madam,' he said, ' I protest you have no cause 
to fear intrusion ; and if I have appeared to follow 

21 



THE DYNAMITER 

you, the fault is in this street, which has deceived us 
both.' 

An unmistakable relief appeared upon the lady's 
face. ' I might have guessed it ! ' she exclaimed. 
' Thank you a thousand times ! But at this hour, 
in this appalling silence, and among all these staring 
windows, I am lost in terrors — oh, lost in them ! ' 
she cried, her face blanching at the words. * I beg 
you to lend me your arm,' she added with the love- 
liest, suppliant inflection. ' I dare not go alone ; 
my nerve is gone — I had a shock, O what a shock ! 
I beg of you to be my escort.' 

* My dear madam,' responded Challoner heavily, 
' my arm is at your service.' 

She took it and clung to it for a moment, 
struggling with her sobs ; and the next, with feverish 
hurry, began to lead him in the direction of the city. 
One thing was plain, among so much that was 
obscure : it was plain her fears were genuine. Still, 
as she went, she spied around as if for dangers ; and 
now she would shiver like a person in a chill, and 
now clutch his arm in hers. To Challoner her terror 
was at once repugnant and infectious ; it gained 
and mastered, while it still offended him ; and he 
wailed in spirit and longed for release. 

' Madam,' he said at last, ' I am, of course, charmed 
to be of use to any lady ; but I confess I was bound 
in a direction opposite to that you follow, and a 
word of explanation ' 

* Hush ! ' she sobbed, * not here — not here ! ' 

The blood of Challoner ran cold. He might have 
22 



THE SQUIRE OF DAMES 

thought the lady mad ; but his memory was charged 
with more perilous stuff ; and in view of the detona- 
tion, the smoke and the flight of the ill-assorted trio, 
his mind was lost among mysteries. So they con- 
tinued to thread the maze of streets in silence, with 
the speed of a guilty flight, and both thrilling with in- 
communicable terrors. In time, however, and above 
all by their quick pace of walking, the pair began to 
rise to firmer spirits ; the lady ceased to peer about 
the corners ; and Challoner, emboldened by the 
resonant tread and distant figure of a constable, re- 
turned to the charge with more of spirit and directness. 

* I thought,' said he, in the tone of conversation, 
'that I had indistinctly perceived you leaving a villa 
in the company of two gentlemen.' 

* Oh!' she said, 'you need not fear to wound me by 
the truth. You saw me flee from a common lodging- 
house, and my companions were not gentlemen. In 
such a case, the best of compliments is to be frank.' 

'I thought,' resumed Challoner, encouraged as 
much as he was surprised by the spirit of her reply, 
' to have perceived, besides, a certain odour. A noise, 
too — I do not know to what I should compare it ' 

' Silence ! ' she cried. ' You do not know the 
danger you invoke. Wait, only wait ; and as soon as 
we have left those streets and got beyond the reach 
of listeners, all shall be explained. Meanwhile 
avoid the topic. What a sight is this sleeping city ! ' 
she exclaimed ; and then, with a most thrilling voice, 
' "Dear God," ' she quoted, ' "the very houses seem 
asleep, and all that mighty heart is lying still." 

23 



THE DYNAMITER 

' I perceive, madam,' said he, 'you are a reader.' 

' I am more than that,' she answered, with a sigh. 
' I am a girl condemned to thoughts beyond her age ; 
and so untoward is my fate, that this walk upon 
the arm of a stranger is like an interlude of peace.' 

They had come by this time to the neighbourhood 
of the Victoria Station ; and here, at a street corner, 
the young lady paused, withdrew her arm from 
Challoner's, and looked up and down as though in 
pain or indecision. Then, with a lovely change of 
countenance, and laying her gloved hand upon his 
arm : 

' What you already think of me,' she said, ' I 
tremble to conceive ; yet I must here condemn 
myself still further. Here I must leave you, and 
here I beseech you to wait for my return. Do not 
attempt to follow me or spy upon my actions. Sus- 
pend yet a while your judgment of a girl as innocent 
as your own sister; and do not, above all, desert 
me. Stranger as you are, I have none else to look 
to. You see me in sorrow and great fear ; you are 
a gentleman, courteous and kind ; and when I beg 
for a few minutes' patience, I make sure beforehand 
you will not deny me.' 

Challoner grudgingly promised ; and the young 
lady, with a grateful eye-shot, vanished round the 
corner. But the force of her appeal had been a little 
blunted ; for the young man was not only destitute 
of sisters, but of any female relative nearer than a 
great-aunt in Wales. Now he was alone, besides, 
the spell that he had hitherto obeyed began to 
24 



THE SQUIRE OF DAMES 

weaken ; he considered his behaviour with a sneer ; 
and plucking up the spirit of revolt, he started in 
pursuit. The reader, if he has ever plied the fas- 
cinating trade of the noctambulist, will not be 
unaware that, in the neighbourhood of the great 
railway centres, certain early taverns inaugurate the 
business of the day. It was into one of these that 
Challoner, coming round the corner of the block, 
beheld his charming companion disappear. To say 
he was surprised were inexact, for he had long since 
left that sentiment behind him. Acute disgust and 
disappointment seized upon his soul ; and with silent 
oaths he damned this commonplace enchantress. 
She had scarce been gone a second ere the swing- 
doors re-opened, and she appeared again in 'company 
with a young man of mean and slouching attire. 
For some five or six exchanges they conversed 
together with an animated air ; then the fellow 
shouldered again into the tap ; and the young lady, 
with something swifter than a walk, retraced her 
steps towards Challoner. He saw her coming, a 
miracle of grace ; her ankle, as she hurried, flashing 
from her dress ; her movements eloquent of speed 
and youth ; and though he still entertained some 
thoughts of flight, they grew miserably fainter as 
the distance lessened. Against mere beauty he was 
proof: it was her unmistakable gentility that now 
robbed him of the courage of his cowardice. With 
a proved adventuress he had acted strictly on his 
right ; with one whom, in spite of all, he could not 
quite deny to be a lady, he found himself disarmed. 

25 



THE DYNAMITER 

At the very corner from whence he had spied upon 
her interview, she came upon him, still transfixed, 
and — ' Ah ! ' she cried, with a bright flush of colour. 
' Ah ! Ungenerous ! ' 

The sharpness of the attack somewhat restored 
the Squire of Dames to the possession of himself. 

' Madam,' he returned, with a fair show of stout- 
ness, ' I do not think that hitherto you can complain 
of any lack of generosity ; I have suffered myself to 
be led over a considerable portion of the metropolis ; 
and if I now request you to discharge me of my 
office of protector, you have friends at hand who will 
be glad of the succession.' 

She stood a moment dumb. 

' It is well,' she said. ' Go ! go, and may God 
help me ! You have seen me — me, an innocent girl ! 
fleeing from a dire catastrophe and haunted by 
sinister men ; and neither pity, curiosity, nor honour 
move you to await my explanation or to help in my 
distress. Go ! ' she repeated. ' I am lost indeed. ' 
And with a passionate gesture she turned and fled 
along the street. 

Challoner observed her retreat and disappear, an 
almost intolerable sense of guilt contending with the 
profound sense that he was being gulled. She was 
no sooner gone than the first of these feelings took 
the upper hand ; he felt, if he had done her less than 
justice, that his conduct was a perfect model of the 
ungracious ; the cultured tone of her voice, her 
choice of language, and the elegant decorum of her 
movements, cried out aloud against a harsh con- 
26 



THE SQUIRE OF DAMES 

struction ; and between penitence and curiosity he 
began slowly to follow in her wake. At the corner 
he had her once more full in view. Her speed was 
failing like a stricken bird's. Even as he looked, 
she threw her arm out gropingly, and fell and leaned 
against the wall. At the spectacle, Challoner's for- 
titude gave way. In a few strides he overtook her, 
and for the first time removing his hat, assured her 
in the most moving terms of his entire respect and 
firm desire to help her. He spoke at first unheeded ; 
but gradually it appeared that she began to com- 
prehend his words ; she moved a little, and drew 
herself upright ; and finally, as with a sudden move- 
ment of forgiveness, turned on the young man a 
countenance in which reproach and gratitude were 
mingled. 'Ah, madam,' he cried, 'use me as you 
will ! ' And once more, but now with a great air of 
deference, he offered her the conduct of his arm. 
She took it with a sigh that struck him to the heart ; 
and they began once more to trace the deserted 
streets. But now her steps, as though exhausted by 
emotion, began to finger on the way ; she leaned 
the more heavily upon his arm ; and he, like the 
parent bird, stooped fondly above his drooping con- 
voy. Her physical distress was not accompanied by 
any failing of her spirits ; and hearing her strike so 
soon into a playful and charming vein of talk, Chal- 
loner could not sufficiently admire the elasticity of 
his companion's nature. 'Let me forget,' she had 
said, ' for one half-hour, let me forget ' ; and sure 
enough, with the very word, her sorrows appeared 

27 



THE DYNAMITER 

to be forgotten. Before every house she paused, 
invented a name for the proprietor, and sketched his 
character : here lived the old general whom she was 
to marry on the fifth of the next month, there was 
the mansion of the rich widow who had set her heart 
on Challoner ; and though she still hung wearily on 
the young man's arm, her laughter sounded low and 
pleasant in his ears. 'Ah,' she sighed, by way of 
commentary, 'in such a life as mine I must seize 
tight hold of any happiness that I can find.' 

When they arrived, in this leisurely manner, at 
the head of Grosvenor Place, the gates of the park 
were opening, and the bedraggled company of night- 
walkers were being at last admitted into that 
paradise of lawns. Challoner and his companion 
followed the movement, and walked for a while in 
silence in that tatterdemalion crowd ; but as one 
after another, weary with the night's patrolling of 
the city pavement, sank upon the benches or wan- 
dered into separate paths, the vast extent of the 
park had soon utterly swallowed up the last of these 
intruders ; and the pair proceeded on their way alone 
in the grateful quiet of the morning. 

Presently they came in sight of a bench, standing 
very open on a mound of turf. The young lady 
looked about her with relief. 

' Here,' she said, ' here at last we are secure from 
listeners. Here, then, you shall learn and judge my 
history. I could not bear that we should part, and 
that you should still suppose your kindness squan- 
dered upon one who was unworthy.' 
28 



THE SQUIRE OF DAMES 

Thereupon she sat down upon the bench, and 
motioning Challoner to take a place immediately 
beside her, began in the following words, and with 
the greatest appearance of enjoyment, to narrate the 
story of her life. 



STORY OF THE DESTROYING ANGEL 

My father was a native of England, son of a cadet of 
a great ancient but untitled family ; and by some 
event, fault, or misfortune he was driven to flee from 
the land of his birth and to lay aside the name of his 
ancestors. He sought the States ; and instead of 
lingering in effeminate cities, pushed at once into 
the Far West with an exploring party of frontiersmen. 
He was no ordinary traveller ; for he was not only 
brave and impetuous by character, but learned in 
many sciences, and above all in botany, which he 
particularly loved. Thus it fell that, before many 
months, Fremont himself, the nominal leader of the 
troop, courted and bowed to his opinion. 

They had pushed, as I have said, into the still 
unknown regions of the West. For some time they 
followed the track of Mormon caravans, guiding 
themselves in that vast and melancholy desert by 
the skeletons of men and animals. Then they in- 
clined their route a little to the north, and, losing 
even these dire memorials, came into a country of 
forbidding stillness. I have often heard my father 
dwell upon the features of that ride : rock, cliff, and 

29 



THE DYNAMITER 

barren moor alternated ; the streams were very far 
between ; and neither beast nor bird disturbed the 
solitude. On the fortieth day they had already run 
so short of food that it was judged advisable to call 
a halt and scatter upon all sides to hunt. A great 
fire was built, that its smoke might serve to rally 
them ; and each man of the party mounted and 
struck off at a venture into the surrounding desert. 

My father rode for many hours with a steep range 
of cliffs upon the one hand, very black and horrible ; 
and upon the other an un watered vale dotted with 
boulders like the site of some subverted city. At 
length he found the slot of a great animal, and, from 
the claw-marks and the hair among the brush, judged 
that he was on the track of a cinnamon bear of most 
unusual size. He quickened the pace of his steed, 
and, still following the quarry, came at last to the 
division of two watersheds. On the far side the 
country was exceeding intricate and difficult, heaped 
with boulders, and dotted here and there with a few 
pines, which seemed to indicate the neighbourhood 
of water. Here, then, he picketed his horse, and, 
relying on his trusty rifle, advanced alone into that 
wilderness. 

Presently, in the great silence that reigned, he was 
aware of the sound of running water to his right; 
and leaning in that direction, was rewarded by a 
scene of natural wonder and human pathos strangely 
intermixed. The stream ran at the bottom of a 
narrow and winding passage, whose wall-like sides of 
rock were sometimes for miles together unscalable 
30 



THE DESTROYING ANGEL 

by man. The water, when the stream was swelled 
with rains, must have filled it from side to side ; the 
sun's rays only plumbed it in the hour of noon ; the 
wind, in that narrow and damp funnel, blew tem- 
pestuously. And yet, in the bottom of this den, 
immediately below my father's eyes as he leaned 
over the margin of the cliff, a party of some half a 
hundred men, women, and children lay scattered 
uneasily among the rocks. They lay, some upon 
their backs, some prone, and not one stirring ; then* 
upturned faces seemed all of an extraordinary pale- 
ness and emaciation ; and from time to time, above 
the washing of the stream, a faint sound of moaning 
mounted to my father's ears. 

While he thus looked, an old man got staggering 
to his feet, unwound his blanket, and laid it, with 
great gentleness, on a young girl who sat hard by 
propped against a rock. The girl did not seem to be 
conscious of the act ; and the old man, after having 
looked upon her with the most engaging pity, re- 
turned to his former bed and lay down again 
uncovered on the turf. But the scene had not 
passed without observation even in that starving 
camp. From the very outskirts of the party, a 
man with a white beard, and seemingly of vener- 
able years, rose up on his knees and came crawling 
stealthily among the sleepers towards the girl ; and, 
judge of my father's indignation, when he beheld 
this cowardly miscreant strip from her both the 
coverings and return with them to his original 
position. Here he lay down for a while below his 

3i 



THE DYNAMITER 

spoils, and, as my father imagined, feigned to be 
asleep ; but presently he had raised himself again 
upon one elbow, looked with sharp scrutiny at his 
companions, and then swiftly carried his hand into 
his bosom and thence to his mouth. By the move- 
ment of his jaws he must be eating ; in that camp of 
famine he had reserved a store of nourishment ; and, 
while his companions lay in the stupor of approach- 
ing death, secretly restored his powers. 

My father was so incensed at what he saw that he 
raised his rifle ; and but for an accident, he has often 
declared, he would have shot the fellow dead upon 
the spot. How different would then have been my 
history ! But it was not to be : even as he raised 
the barrel, his eye lighted on the bear, as it crawled 
along a ledge some way below him ; and ceding to 
the hunter's instinct, it was at the brute, not at the 
man, that he discharged his piece. The bear leaped 
and fell into a pool of the river ; the canon re- 
echoed the report ; and in a moment the camp was 
afoot. With cries that were scarce human, stum- 
bling, falling and throwing each other down, these 
starving people rushed upon the quarry ; and before 
my father, climbing down by the ledge, had time to 
reach the level of the stream, many were already 
satisfying their hunger on the raw flesh, and a fire 
was being built by the more dainty. 

His arrival was for some time unremarked. He 

stood in the midst of these tottering and clay-faced 

marionettes ; he was surrounded by their cries ; but 

their whole soul was fixed on the dead carcase ; even 

32 



THE DESTROYING ANGEL 

those who were too weak to move, lay, half-turned 
over, with their eyes riveted upon the bear ; and my 
father, seeing himself stand as though invisible in the 
thick of this dreary hubbub, was seized with a desire 
to weep. A touch upon the arm restrained him. 
Turning about, he found himself face to face with 
the old man he had so nearly killed ; and yet, at the 
second glance, recognised him for no old man at all, 
but one in the full strength of his years, and of 
a strong, speaking, and intellectual countenance 
stigmatised by weariness and famine. He beckoned 
my father near the cliff, and there, in the most 
private whisper, begged for brandy. My father 
looked at him with scorn: 'You remind me,' he 
said, ' of a neglected duty. Here is my flask ; it 
contains enough, I trust, to revive the women of 
your party ; and I will begin with her whom I saw 
you robbing of her blankets.' And with that, not 
heeding his appeals, my father turned his back upon 
the egoist. 

The girl still lay reclined against the rock; she 
lay too far sunk in the first stage of death to have 
observed the bustle round her couch ; but when my 
father had raised her head, put the flask to her lips, 
and forced or aided her to swallow some drops of 
the restorative, she opened her languid eyes and 
smiled upon him faintly. Never was there a smile 
of a more touching sweetness ; never were eyes more 
deeply violet, more honestly eloquent of the soul ! I 
speak with knowledge, for these were the same eyes 
that smiled upon me in the cradle. From her who 

7— c 33 



THE DYNAMITER, 

was to be his wife, my father, still jealously watched 
and followed by the man with the grey beard, carried 
his attentions to all the women of the party, and 
gave the last dramings of his flask to those among 
the men who seemed in the most need. 

'Is there none left? not a drop for me?' said the 
man with the beard. 

' Not one drop,' replied my father ; ' and if you find 
yourself in want, let me counsel you to put your 
hand into the pocket of your coat.' 

' Ah ! ' cried the other, ' you misjudge me. You 
think me one who clings to life for selfish and com- 
monplace considerations. But let me tell you, that 
were all this caravan to perish, the world would but 
be lightened of a weight. These are but human 
insects, pullulating, thick as may-flies, in the slums 
of European cities, whom I myself have plucked 
from degradation and misery, from the dung-heap 
and gin-palace door. And you compare their lives 
with mine ! ' 

'You are then a Mormon missionary?' asked my 
father. 

' Oh ! ' cried the man, with a strange smile, ' a 
Mormon missionary if you will! I value not the 
title. Were I no more than that, I could have 
died without a murmur. But with my life as a 
physician is bound up the knowledge of great secrets 
and the future of man. This it was, when we missed 
the caravan, tried for a short cut and wandered to 
this desolate ravine, that ate into my soul and, in five 
days, has changed my beard from ebony to silver.' 
34 



THE DESTROYING ANGEL 

'And you are a physician,' mused my father, look- 
ing on his face, ' bound by oath to succour man in 
his distresses.' 

* Sir,' returned the Mormon, ' my name is Grierson: 
you will hear that name again ; and you will then 
understand that my duty was not to this caravan of 
paupers, but to mankind at large.' 

My father turned to the remainder of the party, 
who were now sufficiently revived to hear ; told them 
that he would set off at once to bring help from his 
own party ; ' and,' he added, ' if you be again reduced 
to such extremities, look round you, and you will see 
the earth strewn with assistance. Here, for instance, 
growing on the under-side of fissures in this cliff, you 
will perceive a yellow moss. Trust me, it is both 
edible and excellent.' 

' Ha ! ' said Dr. Grierson, ' you know botany ! ' 

'Not I alone,' returned my father, lowering his 
voice ; ' for see where these have been scraped away. 
Am I right ? Was that your secret store ? ' 

My father's comrades, he found, when he returned 
to the signal-fire, had made a good day's hunting. 
They were thus the more easily persuaded to extend 
assistance to the Mormon caravan ; and the next day 
beheld both parties on the march for the frontiers of 
Utah. The distance to be traversed was not great ; 
but the nature of the country and the difficulty of 
procuring food extended the time to nearly three 
weeks ; and my father had thus ample leisure to 
know and appreciate the girl whom he had suc- 
coured. I will call my mother Lucy. Her family 

35 



THE DYNAMITER 

name I am not at liberty to mention ; it is one you 
would know well. By what series of undeserved 
calamities this innocent flower of maidenhood, lovely, 
refined by education, ennobled by the finest taste, 
was thus cast among the horrors of a Mormon cara- 
van, I must not stay to tell you. Let it suffice, that 
even in these untoward circumstances, she found a 
heart worthy of her own. The ardour of attachment 
which united my father and mother was perhaps 
partly due to the strange manner of their meeting ; 
it knew, at least, no bounds, either divine or human ; 
my father, for her sake, determined to renounce his 
ambitions and abjure his faith ; and a week had not 
yet passed upon the march before he had resigned 
from his party, accepted the Mormon doctrine, and 
received the promise of my mother's hand on the 
arrival of the party at Salt Lake. 

The marriage took place, and I was its only off- 
spring. My father prospered exceedingly in his 
affairs, remained faithful to my mother ; and, though 
you may wonder to hear it, I believe there were few 
happier homes in any country than that in which I 
saw the light and grew to girlhood. We were, in- 
deed, and in spite of all our wealth, avoided as 
heretics and half-believers by the more precise and 
pious of the faithful: Young himself, that formid- 
able tyrant, was known to look askance upon my 
father's riches ; but of this I had no guess. I dwelt, 
indeed, under the Mormon system, with perfect inno- 
cence and faith. Some of our friends had many wives ; 
but such was the custom ; and why should it surprise 
36 



THE DESTROYING ANGEL 

me more than marriage itself? From time to time 
one of our rich acquaintances would disappear, his 
family be broken up, his wives and houses shared 
among the elders of the church, and his memory only 
recalled with bated breath and dreadful head-shakings. 
When I had been very still, and my presence perhaps 
was forgotten, some such topic would arise among my 
elders by the evening fire ; I would see them draw 
the closer together and look behind them with scared 
eyes ; and I might gather from their whisperings how 
some one, rich, honoured, healthy, and in the prime 
of his days, some one, perhaps, who had taken me 
on his knees a week before, had in one hour been 
spirited from home and family, and vanished like an 
image from a mirror, leaving not a print behind. It 
was terrible, indeed, but so was death, the universal 
law. And even if the talk should wax still bolder, 
full of ominous silences and nods, and I should hear 
named in a whisper the Destroying Angels, how was 
a child to understand these mysteries ? I heard of a 
Destroying Angel as some more happy child might 
hear in England of a bishop or a rural dean, with 
vague respect and without the wish for further 
information. Life anywhere, in society as in nature, 
rests upon dread foundations ; I beheld safe roads, a 
garden blooming in the desert, pious people crowd- 
ing to worship ; I was aware of my parents' tender- 
ness and all the harmless luxuries of my existence ; 
and why should I pry beneath this honest seeming 
surface for the mysteries on which it stood ? 

We dwelt originally in the city ; but at an early 

37 



THE DYNAMITER 

date we moved to a beautiful house in a green dingle, 
musical with splashing water, and surrounded on 
almost every side by twenty miles of poisonous and 
rocky desert. The city was thirty miles away ; there 
was but one road, which went no farther than my 
father's door ; the rest were bridle-tracks impassable 
in winter; and we thus dwelt in a solitude incon- 
ceivable to the European. Our only neighbour was 
Dr. Grierson. To my young eyes, after the hair- 
oiled, chin-bearded elders of the city, and the ill- 
favoured and mentally stunted women of their 
harems, there was something agreeable in the 
correct manner, the fine bearing, the thin white 
hair and beard, and the piercing looks of the old 
doctor. Yet, though he was almost our only visitor, 
I never wholly overcame a sense of fear in his 
presence ; and this disquietude was rather fed by the 
awful solitude in which he lived and the obscurity 
that hung about his occupations. His house was 
but a mile or two from ours, but very differently 
placed. It stood overlooking the road on the sum- 
mit of a steep slope, and planted close against a 
range of overhanging bluffs. Nature, you would 
say, had here desired to imitate the works of man ; 
for the slope was even, like the glacis of a fort, and 
the cliffs of a constant height, like the ramparts of a 
city. Not even spring could change one feature of 
that desolate scene ; and the windows looked down 
across a plain, snowy with alkali, to ranges of cold 
stone sierras on the north. Twice or thrice I re- 
member passing within view of this forbidding resi- 
38 



THE DESTROYING ANGEL 

dence ; and seeing it always shuttered, smokeless, 
and deserted, I remarked to my parents that some 
day it would certainly be robbed. 

* Ah, no,' said my father, ' never robbed ' ; and I 
observed a strange conviction in his tone. 

At last, and not long before the blow fell on my 
unhappy family, I chanced to see the doctor's house 
in a new light. My father was ill ; my mother con- 
fined to his bedside ; and I was suffered to go, under 
the charge of our driver, to the lonely house some 
twenty miles away, where our packages were left 
for us. The horse cast a shoe ; night overtook us 
half-way home ; and it was well on for three in the 
morning when the driver and I, alone in a light 
waggon, came to that part of the road which ran 
below the doctor's house. The moon swam clear; 
the cliffs and mountains in this strong light lay 
utterly deserted ; but the house, from its station on 
the top of the long slope and close under the bluff, 
not only shone abroad from every window like a 
place of festival, but from the great chimney at the 
west end poured forth a coil of smoke so thick and 
so voluminous, that it hung for miles along the 
windless night-air, and its shadow lay far abroad in 
the moonlight upon the glittering alkali. As we 
continued to draw near, besides, a regular and pant- 
ing throb began to divide the silence. First it 
seemed to me like the beating of a heart; and 
next it put into my mind the thought of some giant, 
smothered under mountains, and still, with incalcul- 
able effort, fetching breath. I had heard of the 

39 



THE DYNAMITER 

railway, though I had not seen it, and I turned to 
ask the driver if this resembled it. But some look 
in his eye, some pallor, whether of fear or moonlight 
on his face, caused the words to die upon my lips. 
We continued, therefore, to advance in silence, till 
we were close below the lighted house ; when sud- 
denly, without one premonitory rustle, there burst 
forth a report of such a bigness that it shook the 
earth and set the echoes of the mountains thunder- 
ing from cliff to cliff. A pillar of amber flame 
leaped from the chimney-top and fell in multitudes 
of sparks ; and at the same time the lights in the 
windows turned for one instant ruby red and then 
expired. The driver had checked his horse instinc- 
tively, and the echoes were still rumbling farther off 
among the mountains, when there broke from the 
now darkened interior a series of yells — whether 
of man or woman it was impossible to guess — the 
door flew open, and there ran forth into the moon- 
light, at the top of the long slope, a figure clad 
in white, which began to dance and leap and throw 
itself down, and roll as if in agony, before the house. 
I could no more restrain my cries ; the driver laid 
his lash about the horse's flank, and we fled up the 
rough track at the peril of our lives ; and did not 
draw rein till, turning the corner of the mountain, 
we beheld my father's ranch and deep, green groves 
and gardens, sleeping in the tranquil light. 

This was the one adventure of my life, until my 
father had climbed to the very topmost point of 
material prosperity, and I myself had reached the 
40 



THE DESTROYING ANGEL 

age of seventeen. I was still innocent and merry 
like a child ; tended my garden or ran upon the 
hills in glad simplicity ; gave not a thought to 
coquetry or to material cares ; and if my eye rested 
on my own image in a mirror or some sylvan spring, 
it was to seek and recognise the features of my 
parents. But the fears which had long pressed on 
others were now to be laid on my youth. I had 
thrown myself, one sultry, cloudy afternoon, on a 
divan ; the windows stood open on the verandah, 
where my mother sat with her embroidery; and 
when my father joined her from the garden, their 
conversation, clearly audible to me, was of so start- 
ling a nature that it held me enthralled where I 
lay. 

" The blow has come,' my father said, after a long 
pause. 

I could hear my mother start and turn, but in 
words she made no reply. 

'Yes,' continued my father, 'I have received to- 
day a list of all that I possess ; of all, I say ; of what 
I have lent privately to men whose lips are sealed 
with terror; of what I have buried with my own 
hand on the bare mountain, when there was not a 
bird in heaven. Does the air, then, carry secrets ? 
Are the hills of glass ? Do the stones we tread upon 
preserve the footprint to betray us ? Oh, Lucy, 
Lucy, that we should have come to such a country ! ' 

' But this,' returned my mother, ' is no very new 
or very threatening event. You are accused of some 
concealment. You will pay more taxes in the future, 

4i 



THE DYNAMITER 

and be mulcted in a fine. It is disquieting, indeed, 
to find our acts so spied upon, and the most private 
known. But is this new ? Have we not long feared 
and suspected every blade of grass \ ' 

' Ay, and our shadows ! ' cried my father. ' But 
all this is nothing. Here is the letter that accom- 
panied the list.' 

I heard my mother turn the pages ; and she was 
some time silent. 

' I see,' she said at last ; and then, with the tone 
of one reading : ' " From a believer so largely blessed 
by Providence with this world's goods," ' she con- 
tinued, ' " the Church awaits in confidence some 
signal mark of piety." There lies the sting. Am 
I not right ? These are the words you fear ? ' 

' These are the words,' replied my father. 'Lucy, 
you remember Priestley ? Two days before he dis- 
appeared, he carried me to the summit of an isolated 
butte ; we could see around us for ten miles ; sure, 
if in any quarter of this land a man were safe from 
spies, it were in such a station ; but it was in the 
very ague-fit of terror that he told me, and that 
I heard, his story. He had received a letter such as 
this ; and he submitted to my approval an answer in 
which he offered to resign a third of his possessions. 
I conjured him, as he valued life, to raise his offer- 
ing ; and, before we parted, he had doubled the 
amount. Well, two days later he was gone — gone 
from the chief street of the city in the hour of noon 
— and gone for ever. O God ! ' cried my father, ' by 
what art do they thus spirit out of life the solid 
42 



THE DESTROYING ANGEL 

body ? What death do they command that leaves 
no traces ? that this material structure, these strong 
arms, this skeleton that can resist the grave for 
centuries, should be thus reft in a moment from 
the world of sense ? A horror dwells in that thought 
more awful than mere death.' 

* Is there no hope in Grierson ? ' asked my mother. 
'Dismiss the thought,' replied my father. 'He 

now knows all that I can teach, and will do naught 
to save me. His power, besides, is small, his own 
danger not improbably more imminent than mine; 
for he, too, lives apart ; he leaves his wives neglected 
and unwatched ; he is openly cited for an unbeliever; 
and unless he buys security at a more awful price — 
but no ; I will not believe it : I have no love for him, 
but I will not believe it.' 

* Believe what ? ' asked my mother ; and then, with 
a change of note, ' But oh, what matters it ? ' she 
cried. « Abimelech, there is but one way open : we 
must fly ! ' 

* It is in vain,' returned my father. ' I should but 
involve you in my fate. To leave this land is hope- 
less : we are closed in it as men are closed in life ; 
and there is no issue but the grave.' 

' We can but die then,' replied my mother. * Let 
us at least die together. Let not Asenath 1 and 
myself survive you. Think to what a fate we should 
be doomed ! ' 

My father was unable to resist her tender violence; 
and though I could see he nourished not one spark 

1 In this name the accent falls upon the e ; the s is sibilant. 

43 



THE DYNAMITER 

of hope, he consented to desert his whole estate, 
beyond some hundreds of dollars that he had by 
him at the moment, and to flee that night, which 
promised to be dark and cloudy. As soon as the 
servants were asleep, he was to load two mules with 
provisions ; two others were to carry my mother and 
myself; and, striking through the mountains by an 
unfrequented trail, we were to make a fair stroke for 
liberty and life. As soon as they had thus decided, 
I showed myself at the window, and, owning that I 
had heard all, assured them that they could rely on 
my prudence and devotion. I had no fear, indeed, 
but to show myself unworthy of my birth ; I held 
my life in my hand without alarm ; and when my 
father, weeping upon my neck, had blessed Heaven 
for the courage of his child, it was with a sentiment 
of pride and some of the joy that warriors take in 
war, that I began to look forward to the perils of our 
flight. 

Before midnight, under an obscure and starless 
heaven, we had left far behind us the plantations of 
the valley, and were mounting a certain canon in 
the hills, narrow, encumbered with great rocks, and 
echoing with the roar of a tumultuous torrent. Cas- 
cade after cascade thundered and hung up its flag of 
whiteness in the night, or fanned our faces with the 
wet wind of its descent. The trail was break-neck, 
and led to famine-guarded deserts ; it had been long 
since deserted for more practicable routes ; and it 
was now a part of the world untrod from year to 
year by human footing. Judge of our dismay when, 
44 



THE DESTROYING ANGEL 

turning suddenly an angle of the cliffs, we found a 
bright bonfire blazing by itself under an impending 
rock ; and on the face of the rock, drawn very rudely 
with charred wood, the great Open Eye which is the 
emblem of the Mormon faith. We looked upon each 
other in the firelight ; my mother broke into a 
passion of tears ; but not a word was said. The 
mules were turned about; and leaving that great 
eye to guard the lonely canon, we retraced our 
steps in silence. Day had not yet broken ere we 
were once more at home, condemned beyond reprieve. 
What answer my father sent I was not told ; but 
two days later, a little before sundown, I saw a 
plain, honest-looking man ride slowly up the road in 
a great pother of dust. He was clad in homespun, 
with a broad straw hat ; wore a patriarchal beard ; 
and had an air of a simple rustic farmer, that was, 
in my eyes, very reassuring. He was, indeed, a very 
honest man and pious Mormon ; with no liking for 
his errand, though neither he nor any one in Utah 
dared to disobey ; and it was with every mark of 
diffidence that he had had himself announced as 
Mr. Aspinwall, and entered the room where our 
unhappy family was gathered. My mother and me 
he awkwardly enough dismissed ; and as soon as he 
was alone with my father laid before him a blank 
signature of President Young's, and offered him a 
choice of services : either to set out as a missionary 
to the tribes about the White Sea, or to join the 
next day, with a party of Destroying Angels, in the 
massacre of sixty German immigrants. The last, of 

45 



THE DYNAMITER 

course, my father could not entertain, and the first 
he regarded as a pretext : even if he could consent 
to leave his wife defenceless, and to collect fresh 
victims for the tyranny under which he was himself 
oppressed, he felt sure he would never be suffered to 
return. He refused both ; and Aspinwall, he said, 
betrayed sincere emotion, part religious, at the spec- 
tacle of such disobedience, but part human, in pity 
for my father and his family. He besought him to 
reconsider his decision ; and at length, finding he 
could not prevail, gave him till the moon rose to 
settle his affairs, and say farewell to wife and 
daughter. 'For,' said he, 'then, at the latest, you 
must ride with me.' 

I dare not dwell upon the hours that followed : 
they fled all too fast ; and presently the moon out- 
topped the eastern range, and my father and Mr. 
Aspinwall set forth, side by side, on their nocturnal 
journey. My mother, though still bearing an heroic 
countenance, had hastened to shut herself in her 
apartment, thenceforward solitary; and I, alone in 
the dark house, and consumed by grief and appre- 
hension, made haste to saddle my Indian pony, to 
ride up to the corner of the mountain, and to enjoy 
one farewell sight of my departing father. The two 
men had set forth at a deliberate pace ; nor was I 
long behind them, when I reached the point of view. 
I was the more amazed to see no moving creature in 
the landscape. The moon, as the saying is, shone 
bright as day ; and nowhere, under the whole arch of 
night, was there a growing tree, a bush, a farm, a 
46 



THE DESTROYING ANGEL 

patch of tillage, or any evidence of man, but one. 
From the corner where I stood, a rugged bastion of 
the line of bluffs concealed the doctor's house ; and 
across the top of that projection the soft night wind 
carried and unwound about the hills a coil of sable 
smoke. What fuel could produce a vapour so 
sluggish to dissipate in that dry air, or what furnace 
pour it forth so copiously, I was unable to conceive ; 
but I knew well enough that it came from the 
doctor's chimney ; I saw well enough that my father 
had already disappeared ; and in despite of reason, I 
connected in my mind the loss of that dear pro- 
tector with the ribbon of foul smoke that trailed 
along the mountains. 

Days passed, and still my mother and I waited in 
vain for news ; a week went by, a second followed, 
but we heard no word of the father and husband. 
As smoke dissipates, as the image glides from the 
mirror, so in the ten or twenty minutes that I had 
spent in getting my horse and following upon his 
trail, had that strong and brave man vanished out 
of life. Hope, if any hope we had, fled with every 
hour ; the worst was now certain for my father, the 
worst was to be dreaded for his defenceless family. 
Without weakness, with a desperate calm at which 
I marvel when I look back upon it, the widow and 
the orphan awaited the event. On the last day of 
the third week we rose in the morning to find 
ourselves alone in the house, alone, so far as we 
searched, on the estate ; all our attendants, with one 
accord, had fled ; and as we knew them to be grate- 

47 



THE DYNAMITER 

fully devoted, we drew the darkest intimations from 
their flight. The day passed, indeed, without event; but 
in the fall of the evening we were called at last into 
the verandah by the approaching clink of horse's hoofs. 

The doctor, mounted on an Indian pony, rode 
into the garden, dismounted, and saluted us. He 
seemed much more bent, and his hair more silvery 
than ever ; but his demeanour was composed, serious, 
and not unkind. 

'Madam,' said he, 'I am come upon a weighty 
errand ; and I would have you recognise it as an 
effect of kindness in the President, that he should 
send as his ambassador your only neighbour and 
your husband's oldest friend in Utah.' 

' Sir,' said my mother, ' I have but one concern, 
one thought. You know well what it is. Speak : 
my husband ? ' 

' Madam,' returned the doctor, taking a chair on 
the verandah, ' if you were a silly child my position 
would now be painfully embarrassing. You are, on 
the other hand, a woman of great intelligence and 
fortitude : you have, by my forethought, been allowed 
three weeks to draw your own conclusions and to 
accept the inevitable. Further words from me are, 
I conceive, superfluous.' 

My mother was as pale as death, and trembled 
like a reed ; I gave her my hand, and she kept it in 
the folds of her dress, and wrung it till I could have 
cried aloud. ' Then, sir,' said she at last, ' you speak 
to deaf ears. If this be indeed so, what have I to do 
with errands ? what do I ask of Heaven but to die ? ' 
48 



THE DESTROYING ANGEL 

1 Come,' said the doctor, ' command yourself. I 
bid you dismiss all thoughts of your late husband, 
and bring a clear mind to bear upon your own future 
and the fate of that young girl.' 

' You bid me dismiss ' began my mother. 

' Then you know ! ' she cried. 

' I know,' replied the doctor. 

' You know ? ' broke out the poor woman. ' Then 
it was you who did the deed ! I tear off the mask, 
and with dread and loathing see you as you are 
— you, whom the poor fugitive beholds in night- 
mares, and awakes raving — you, the Destroying 
Angel ! ' 

1 Well, madam, and what then ? ' returned the 
doctor. ' Have not my fate and yours been similar ? 
Are we not both immured in this strong prison of 
Utah ? Have you not tried to flee, and did not the 
Open Eye confront you in the canon ? Who can 
escape the watch of that unsleeping eye of Utah ? 
Not I, at least. Horrible tasks have, indeed, been 
laid upon me ; and the most ungrateful was the last ; 
but had I refused my offices, would that have spared 
your husband? You know well it would not. I, 
too, had perished along with him ; nor would I have 
been able to alleviate his last moments, nor could I 
to-day have stood between his family and the hand 
of Brigham Young.' 

' Ah ! ' cried I, ' and could you purchase life by 
such concessions ? ' 

' Young lady,' answered the doctor, ' I both could 
and did ; and you will live to thank me for that 
7— d 49 



THE DYNAMITER 

baseness. You have a spirit, Asenath, that it pleases 
me to recognise. But we waste time. Mr. Fon- 
blanque's estate reverts, as you doubtless imagine, to 
the church ; but some part of it has been reserved 
for him who is to marry the family ; and that person, 
I should perhaps tell you without more delay, is no 
other than myself.' 

At this odious proposal my mother and I cried 
out aloud and clung together like lost souls. 

' It is as I supposed,' resumed the doctor, with the 
same measured utterance. ' You recoil from this 
arrangement. Do you expect me to convince you ? 
You know very well that I have never held the 
Mormon view of women. Absorbed in the most 
arduous studies, I have left the slatterns whom they 
call my wives to scratch and quarrel among them- 
selves ; of me, they have had nothing but my purse ; 
such was not the union I desired, even if I had the 
leisure to pursue it. No : you need not, madam, 
and my old friend' — and here the doctor rose and 
bowed with something of gallantry — ' you need not 
apprehend my importunities. On the contrary, I am 
rejoiced to read in you a Roman spirit ; and if I am 
obliged to bid you follow me at once, and that in the 
name, not of my wish, but of my orders, I hope it 
will be found that we are of a common mind. ' 

So, bidding us dress for the road, he took a lamp 
(for the night had now fallen) and set off to the 
stable to prepare our horses. 

' What does it mean ? — what will become of us ? ' 
I cried. 

50 



THE DESTROYING ANGEL 

* Not that, at least,' replied my mother, shudder- 
ing. ' So far we can trust him. I seem to read 
among his words a certain tragic promise. Asenath, 
if I leave you, if I die, you will not forget your 
miserable parents ? ' 

Thereupon we fell to cross-purposes : I beseeching 
her to explain her words ; she putting me by, and 
continuing to recommend the doctor for a friend. 
* The doctor ! ' I cried at last ; ' the man who killed 
my father ? ' 

'Nay,' said she, 'let us be just. I do believe, 
before Heaven, he played the friendliest part. And 
he alone, Asenath, can protect you in this land of 
death. ' 

At this the doctor returned, leading our two 
horses ; and when we were all in the saddle, he bade 
me ride on before, as he had matter to discuss with 
Mrs. Fonblanque. They came at a foot's-pace, 
eagerly conversing in a whisper ; and presently after 
the moon rose and showed them looking eagerly in 
each other's faces as they went, my mother laying 
her hand upon the doctor's arm, and the doctor 
himself, against his usual custom, making vigorous 
gestures of protest or asseveration. 

At the foot of the track which ascended the talus 
of the mountain to his door, the doctor overtook me 
at a trot. 

' Here,' he said, < we shall dismount ; and as your 
mother prefers to be alone, you and I shall walk 
together to my house.' 

' Shall I see her again ? ' I asked. 

5i 



THE DYNAMITER 

' I give you my word/ he said, and helped me to 
alight. 'We leave the horses here,' he added. 
' There are no thieves in this stone wilderness. 

The track mounted gradually, keeping the house 
in view. The windows were once more bright ; the 
chimney once more vomited smoke ; but the most 
absolute silence reigned, and, but for the figure of 
my mother very slowly following in our wake, I 
felt convinced there was no human soul within a 
range of miles. At the thought, I looked upon the 
doctor, gravely walking by my side, with his bowed 
shoulders and white hair, and then once more at his 
house, lit up and pouring smoke like some indus- 
trious factory. And then my curiosity broke forth. 
' In Heaven's name,' I cried, ' what do you make in 
this inhuman desert ? ' 

He looked at me with a peculiar smile, and 
answered with an evasion : 

< This is not the first time,' said he, ' that you have 
seen my furnaces alight. One morning, in the small 
hours, I saw you driving past ; a delicate experiment 
miscarried ; and I cannot acquit myself of having 
startled either your driver or the horse that drew 
you.' 

• What ! ' cried I, beholding again in fancy the 
antics of the figure, ' could that be you ? ' 

' It was I,' he replied ; ' but do not fancy that I was 
mad. I was in agony. I had been scalded cruelly.' 

We were now near the house, which, unlike the 
ordinary houses of the country, was built of hewn 
stone, and very solid. Stone, too, was its foundation, 
52 



THE DESTROYING ANGEL 

stone its background. Not a blade of grass sprouted 
among the broken mineral about the walls, not a 
flower adorned the windows. Over the door, by 
way of sole adornment, the Mormon Eye was rudely 
sculptured; I had been brought up to view that 
emblem from my childhood ; but since the night of 
our escape it had acquired a new significance, and 
set me shrinking. The smoke rolled voluminously 
from the chimney-top, its edges ruddy with the fire ; 
and from the far corner of the building, near the 
ground, angry puffs of steam shone snow-white in 
the moon and vanished. 

The doctor opened the door and paused upon the 
threshold. ' You ask me what I make here,' he 
observed : * Two things : Life and Death.' And he 
motioned me to enter. 

' I shall await my mother,' said I. 

' Child,' he replied, 'look at me : am I not old and 
broken ? Of us two, which is the stronger, the 
young maiden or the withered man ? ' 

I bowed, and, passing by him, entered a vestibule 
or kitchen, lit by a good fire and a shaded reading- 
lamp. It was furnished only with a dresser, a rude 
table, and some wooden benches ; and on one of 
these the doctor motioned me to take a seat ; and 
passing by another door into the interior of the house, 
he left me to myself. Presently I heard the jar of 
iron from the far end of the building ; and this was 
followed by the same throbbing noise that had 
startled me in the valley, but now so near at hand 
as to be menacing by loudness, and even to shake 

53 



THE DYNAMITER 

the house with every recurrence of the stroke. I 
had scarce time to master my alarm when the doctor 
returned, and almost in the same moment my mother 
appeared upon the threshold. But how am I to 
describe to you the peace and ravishment of that 
face ? Years seemed to have passed over her head 
during that brief ride, and left her younger and 
fairer ; her eyes shone, her smile went to my heart ; 
she seemed no more a woman, but the angel of 
ecstatic tenderness. I ran to her in a kind of terror ; 
but she shrank a little back and laid her finger on 
her lips, with something arch and yet unearthly. 
To the doctor, on the contrary, she reached out her 
hand as to a friend and helper ; and so strange was 
the scene that I forgot to be offended. 

' Lucy,' said the doctor, * all is prepared. Will 
you go alone, or shall your daughter follow us ? ' 

' Let Asenath come,' she answered, ' dear Asenath ! 
At this hour, when I am purified of fear and sorrow, 
and already survive myself and my affections, it is 
for your sake, and not for mine, that I desire her 
presence. Were she shut out, dear friend, it is to 
be feared she might misjudge your kindness.' 

' Mother,' I cried wildly, ' mother, what is this ? ' 

But my mother, with her radiant smile, said only 
' Hush ! ' as though I were a child again, and tossing 
in some fever-fit ; and the doctor bade me be silent 
and trouble her no more. ' You have made a choice,' 
he continued, addressing my mother, ' that has often 
strangely tempted me. The two extremes : all, or 
else nothing ; never, or this very hour upon the 
54 



THE DESTROYING ANGEL 

clock — these have been my incongruous desires. 
But to accept the middle term, to be content with 
a half-gift, to flicker a while and to burn out — never 
for an hour, never since I was born, has satisfied 
the appetite of my ambition.' He looked upon my 
mother fixedly, much of admiration and some touch 
of envy in his eyes ; then, with a profound sigh, he 
led the way into the inner room. 

It was very long. From end to end it was lit up 
by many lamps, which by the changeful colour of 
their light, and by the incessant snapping sounds 
with which they burned, I have since divined to be 
electric. At the extreme end an open door gave us 
a glimpse into what must have been a lean-to shed 
beside the chimney ; and this, in strong contrast to 
the room, was painted with a red reverberation as 
from furnace-doors. The walls Avere lined with books 
and glazed cases, the tables crowded with the imple- 
ments of chemical research ; great glass accumulators 
glittered in the light ; and through a hole in the 
gable near the shed door a heavy driving-belt entered 
the apartment and ran overhead upon steel pulleys, 
with clumsy activity and many ghostly and flutter- 
ing sounds. In one corner I perceived a chair resting 
upon crystal feet, and curiously wreathed with wire. 
To this my mother advanced with a decisive swift- 
ness. 

' Is this it ? ' she asked. 

The doctor bowed in silence. 

' Asenath,' said my mother, ' in this sad end of my 
life I have found one helper. Look upon him : it is 

55 



THE DYNAMITER 

Dr. Grierson. Be not, O my daughter, be not un- 
grateful to that friend ! ' 

She sat upon the chair, and took in her hands the 
globes that terminated the arms. 

'Am I right?' she asked, and looked upon the 
doctor with such a radiancy of face that I trembled 
for her reason. Once more the doctor bowed, but 
this time leaning hard against the wall. He must 
have touched a spring. The least shock agitated my 
mother where she sat ; the least passing jar appeared 
to cross her features ; and she sank back in the chair 
like one resigned to weariness. I was at her knees 
that moment ; but her hands fell loosely in my grasp ; 
her face, still beatified with the same touching smile, 
sank forward on her bosom : her spirit had for ever 
fled. 

I do not know how long may have elapsed before, 
raising for a moment my tearful face, I met the 
doctor's eyes. They rested upon mine with such a 
depth of scrutiny, pity, and interest, that even from 
the freshness of my sorrow I was startled into 
attention. 

* Enough,' he said, ' to lamentation. Your mother 
went to death as to a bridal, dying where her hus- 
band died. It is time, Asenath, to think of the 
survivors. Follow me to the next room.' 

I followed him, like a person in a dream ; he made 
me sit by the fire, he gave me wine to drink ; and 
then, pacing the stone floor, he thus began to 
address me : 

* You are now, my child, alone in the world, and 

56 



THE DESTROYING ANGEL 

under the immediate watch of Brigham Young. It 
would be your lot, in ordinary circumstances, to 
become the fiftieth bride of some ignoble elder, or by 
particular fortune, as fortune is counted in this land, 
to find favour in the eyes of the President himself. 
Such a fate for a girl like you were worse than death ; 
better to die as your mother died than to sink daily 
deeper in the mire of this pit of woman's degradation. 
But is escape conceivable ? Your father tried ; and 
you beheld yourself with what security his jailers 
acted, and how a dumb drawing on a rock was 
counted a sufficient sentry over the avenues of free- 
dom. Where your father failed, will you be wiser 
or more fortunate ? or are you, too, helpless in the 
toils ? ' 

I had followed his words with changing emotion, 
but now I believed I understood. 

'I see,' I cried; 'you judge me rightly. I must 
follow where my parents led ; and oh ! I am not only 
willing, I am eager ! ' 

' No,' replied the doctor, ' not death for you. The 
flawed vessel we may break, but not the perfect. 
No, your mother cherished a different hope, and so 
do I. I see,' he cried, ' the girl develop to the com- 
pleted woman, the plan reach fulfilment, the promise 
— ay, outdone ! I could not bear to arrest so lively, 
so comely a process. It was your mother's thought,' 
he added, with a change of tone, 'that I should 
marry you myself.' I fear I must have shown a 
perfect horror of aversion from this fate, for he made 
haste to quiet me. ' Re-assure yourself, Asenath,' he 

57 



THE DYNAMITER 

resumed. ' Old as I am, I have not forgotten the 
tumultuous fancies of youth. I have passed my 
days, indeed, in laboratories ; but in all my vigils I 
have not forgotten the tune of a young pulse. Age 
asks with timidity to be spared intolerable pain ; 
youth, taking fortune by the beard, demands joy like 
a right. These things I have not forgotten ; none, 
rather, has more keenly felt, none more jealously 
considered them ; I have but postponed them to 
their day. See, then : you stand without support ; 
the only friend left to you, this old investigator, old 
in cunning, young in sympathy. Answer me but 
one question : Are you free from the entanglement 
of what the world calls love ? Do you still com- 
mand your heart and purposes ? or are you fallen in 
some bond-slavery of the eye and ear ? ' 

I answered him in broken words; my heart, I 
think I must have told him, lay with my dead 
parents. 

' It is enough,' he said. « It has been my fate to 
be called on often, too often, for those services of 
which we spoke to-night ; none in Utah could carry 
them so well to a conclusion ; hence there has fallen 
into my hands a certain share of influence which I 
now lay at your service, partly for the sake of my 
dead friends, your parents ; partly for the interest I 
bear you in your own right. I shall send you to 
England, to the great city of London, there to await 
the bridegroom I have selected. He shall be a son 
of mine, a young man suitable in age, and not grossly 
deficient in that quality of beauty that your years 
58 



THE DESTROYING ANGEL 

demand. Since your heart is free, you may well 
pledge me the sole promise that I ask in return for 
much expense and still more danger : to await the 
arrival of that bridegroom with the delicacy of a 
wife.' 

I sat a while stunned. The doctor's marriages, I 
remembered to have heard, had been unfruitful ; and 
this added perplexity to my distress. But I was 
alone, as he had said, alone in that dark land ; the 
thought of escape, of any equal marriage, was already 
enough to revive in me some dawn of hope ; and in 
what words I know not, I accepted the proposal. 

He seemed more moved by my consent than I 
could reasonably have looked for. ' You shall see,' 
he cried ; ' you shall judge for yourself.' And hurry- 
ing to the next room he returned with a small por- 
trait somewhat coarsely done in oils. It showed a 
man in the dress of nearly forty years before, young 
indeed, but still recognisable to be the doctor. ' Do 
you like it ? ' he asked. ' That is myself when I was 
young. My — my boy will be like that, like, but 
nobler ; with such health as angels might condescend 
to envy ; and a man of mind, Asenath, of command- 
ing mind. That should be a man, I think; that 
should be one among ten thousand. A man like 
that — one to combine the passions of youth with the 
restraint, the force, the dignity of age — one to fill all 
the parts and faculties, one to be man's epitome — 
say, will that not satisfy the needs of an ambitious 
girl ? Say, is not that enough ? ' And as he held 
the picture close before my eyes, his hands shook. 

59 



THE DYNAMITER 

I told him briefly I would ask no better, for I was 
transpierced with this display of fatherly emotion ; 
but even as I said the words, the most insolent revolt 
surged through my arteries. I held him in horror, 
him, his portrait, and his son ; and had there been 
any choice but death or a Mormon marriage, I de- 
clare before Heaven I had embraced it. 

' It is well,' he replied, ' and I had rightly counted 
on your spirit. Eat, then, for you have far to go.' 
So saying, he set meat before me ; and while I 
was endeavouring to obey, he left the room and 
returned with an armful of coarse raiment. ' There,' 
said he, 'is your disguise. I leave you to your 
toilet' 

The clothes had probably belonged to a somewhat 
lubberly boy of fifteen ; and they hung about me 
like a sack, and cruelly hampered my movements. 
But what filled me with uncontrollable shudderings 
was the problem of their origin and the fate of the 
lad to whom they had belonged. I had scarcely 
effected the exchange when the doctor returned, 
opened a back window, helped me out into the 
narrow space between the house and the overhanging 
bluffs, and showed me a ladder of iron footholds 
mortised in the rock. 'Mount,' he said, 'swiftly. 
When you are at the summit, walk, so far as you 
are able, in the shadow of the smoke. The smoke 
will bring you, sooner or later, to a canon ; follow 
that down, and you will find a man with two horses. 
Him you will implicitly obey. And remember, 
silence ! That machinery which I now put in motion 
60 



THE DESTROYING ANGEL 

for your service may by one word be turned against 
you. Go ; Heaven prosper you ! ' 

The ascent was easy. Arrived at the top of the 
cliff, I saw before me on the other side a vast and 
gradual declivity of stone, lying bare to the moon 
and the surrounding mountains. Nowhere was any 
vantage or concealment; and knowing how these 
deserts were beset with spies, I made haste to veil 
my movements under the blowing trail of smoke. 
Sometimes it swam high, rising on the night wind, 
and I had no more substantial curtain than its moon- 
thrown shadow; sometimes again it crawled upon 
the earth, and I would walk in it, no higher than to 
my shoulders, like some mountain fog. But, one 
way or another, the smoke of that ill-omened furnace 
protected the first steps of my escape, and led me 
unobserved to the canon. 

There, sure enough, I found a taciturn and sombre 
man beside a pair of saddle-horses ; and thence- 
forward, all night long, we wandered in silence by 
the most occult and dangerous paths among the 
mountains. A little before the dayspring we took 
refuge in a wet and gusty cavern at the bottom of a 
gorge ; lay there all day concealed ; and the next 
night, before the glow had faded out of the west, 
resumed our wanderings. About noon we stopped 
again, in a lawn upon a little river, where was a 
screen of bushes ; and here my guide, handing me a 
bundle from his pack, bade me change my dress once 
more. The bundle contained clothing of my own, 
taken from our house, with such necessaries as a 

61 



THE DYNAMITER 

comb and soap. I made my toilet by the mirror of 
a quiet pool ; and as I was so doing and smiling with 
some complacency to see myself restored to my 
own image, the mountains rang with a scream of far 
more than human piercingness ; and while I still 
stood astonished, there sprang up and swiftly in- 
creased a storm of the most awful and earth -rending 
sounds. Shall I own to you that I fell upon my 
face and shrieked ? And yet this was but the over- 
land train winding among the near mountains : the 
very means of my salvation : the strong wings that 
were to carry me from Utah ! 

When I was dressed the guide gave me a bag, 
which contained, he said, both money and papers ; 
and, telling me that I was already over the borders 
in the territory of Wyoming, bade me follow the 
stream until I reached the railway station, half a 
mile below. * Here,' he added, * is your ticket as far 
as Council Bluffs. The East express will pass in a 
few hours.' With that, he took both horses and, 
without further words or any salutation, rode off by 
the way that we had come. 

Three hours afterwards, 1 was seated on the end 
platform of the train as it swept eastward through 
the gorges and thundered in tunnels of the moun- 
tain. The change of scene, the sense of escape, the 
still throbbing terror of pursuit — above all the as- 
tounding magic of my new conveyance, kept me 
from any logical or melancholy thought. I had gone 
to the doctor's house two nights before prepared to 
die, prepared for worse than death ; what had passed, 
62 



THE DESTROYING ANGEL 

terrible although it was, looked almost bright com- 
pared to my anticipations ; and it was not till I had 
slept a full night in the flying palace car that I 
awoke to the sense of my irreparable loss and to 
some reasonable alarm about the future. In this 
mood I examined the contents of the bag. It was 
well supplied with gold ; it contained tickets and 
complete directions for my journey as far as Liver- 
pool, and a long letter from the doctor, supplying 
me with a fictitious name and story, recommending 
the most guarded silence, and bidding me to await 
faithfully the coming of his son. All then had been 
arranged beforehand : he had counted upon my con- 
sent, and, what was tenfold worse, upon my mother's 
voluntary death. My horror of my only friend, my 
aversion for this son who was to marry me, my 
revolt against the whole current and conditions of 
my life, were now complete. I was sitting stupefied 
by my distress and helplessness, when, to my joy, a 
very pleasant lady offered me her conversation. I 
clutched at the relief; and I was soon glibly telling 
her the story in the doctor's letter : how I was a Miss 
Gould, of Nevada City, going to England to an 
uncle, what money I had, what family, my age, and 
so forth, until I had exhausted my instructions, and, 
as the lady still continued to ply me with questions, 
began to embroider on my own account. This soon 
carried one of my inexperience beyond her depth ; 
and I had already remarked a shadow on the lady's 
face, when a gentleman drew near and very civilly 
addressed me : 

^3 



THE DYNAMITER 

' Miss Gould, I believe ? ' said he ; and then, ex- 
cusing himself to the lady by the authority of my 
guardian, drew me to the fore platform of the Pull- 
man car. ' Miss Gould,' he said in my ear, ' is it 
possible that you suppose yourself in safety? Let 
me completely undeceive you. One more such 
indiscretion and you return to Utah. And, in the 
meanwhile, if this woman should again address you, 
you are to reply with these words : " Madam, I do 
not like you, and I will be obliged if you will suffer 
me to choose my own associates." ' 

Alas, I had to do as I was bid ; this lady, to whom 
I already felt myself drawn with the strongest cords 
of sympathy, I dismissed with insult ; and thence- 
forward, through all that day I sat in silence, gazing 
on the bare plains and swallowing my tears. Let 
that suffice: it was the pattern of my journey. 
Whether on the train, at the hotels, or on board the 
ocean steamer, I never exchanged a friendly word 
with any fellow-traveller but I was certain to be 
interrupted. In every place, on every side, the most 
unlikely persons, man or woman, rich or poor, be- 
came protectors to forward me upon my journey or 
spies to observe and regulate my conduct. Thus I 
crossed the States, thus passed the ocean, the 
Mormon Eye still following my movements ; and 
when at length a cab had set me down before that 
London lodging-house from which you saw me flee 
this morning, I had already ceased to struggle and 
ceased to hope. 

The landlady, like every one else through all that 
64 



THE DESTROYING ANGEL 

journey, was expecting my arrival. A fire was 
lighted in my room, which looked upon the garden ; 
there were books on the table, clothes in the drawers ; 
and there (I had almost said with contentment, and 
certainly with resignation) I saw month follow month 
over my head. At times my landlady took me for 
a walk or an excursion, but she would never suffer 
me to leave the house alone ; and I, seeing that she 
also lived under the shadow of that widespread 
Mormon terror, felt too much pity to resist. To 
the child born on Mormon soil, as to the man who 
accepts the engagements of a secret order, no escape 
is possible ; so I had clearly read, and I was thankful 
even for this respite. Meanwhile, I tried honestly 
to prepare my mind for my approaching nuptials. 
The day drew near when my bridegroom was to visit 
me, and gratitude and fear alike obliged me to con- 
sent. A son of Dr. Grierson's, be he what he pleased, 
must still be young, and it was even probable he 
should be handsome ; on more than that I felt I 
dared not reckon ; and in moulding my mind towards 
consent I dwelt the more carefully on these physical 
attractions which I felt I might expect, and averted 
my eyes from moral or intellectual considerations. 
We have a great power upon our spirits ; and as 
time passed I worked myself into a frame of acquies- 
cence, nay, and I began to grow impatient for the 
hour. At night sleep forsook me ; I sat all day by 
the fire, absorbed in dreams, conjuring up the features 
of my husband, and anticipating in fancy the touch 
of his hand and the sound of his voice. In the dead 
' 7— e 65 



THE DYNAMITER 

level and solitude of my existence, this was the one 
eastern window and the one door of hope. At last 
I had so cultivated and prepared my will that I 
began to be besieged with fears upon the other side. 
How if it was I that did not please ? How if this 
unseen lover should turn from me with disaffection ? 
And now I spent hours before the glass, studying 
and judging my attractions, and was never weary of 
changing my dress or ordering my hair. 

When the day came I was long about my toilet ; 
but at last, with a sort of hopeful desperation, I had 
to own that I could do no more, and must now stand 
or fall by nature. My occupation ended, I fell a 
prey to the most sickening impatience, mingled with 
alarms ; giving ear to the swelling rumour of the 
streets, and at each change of sound or silence start- 
ing, shrinking, and colouring to the brow. Love is 
not to be prepared, I know, without some knowledge 
of the object ; and yet, when the cab at last rattled 
to the door, and I heard my visitor mount the stairs, 
such was the tumult of hopes in my poor bosom that 
love itself might have been proud to own their 
parentage. The door opened, and it was Dr. Grier- 
son that appeared. I believe I must have screamed 
aloud, and I know, at least, that I fell fainting to 
the floor. 

When I came to myself he was standing over me, 
counting my pulse. ' I have startled you,' he said. 
' A difficulty unforeseen — the impossibility of obtain- 
ing a certain drug in its full purity — has forced me 
to resort to London unprepared. I regret that I 
66 



THE DESTROYING ANGEL 

should have shown myself once more without those 
poor attractions which are much, perhaps, to you, 
but to me are no more considerable than rain that 
falls into the sea. Youth is but a state, as passing 
as that syncope from which you are but just awak- 
ened, and, if there be truth in science, as easy to 
recall; for I find, Asenath, that I must now take 
you for my confidant. Since my first years I have 
devoted every hour and act of fife to one ambitious 
task ; and the time of my success is at hand. In 
these new countries, where I was so long content to 
stay, I collected indispensable ingredients ; I have 
fortified myself on every side from the possibility of 
error ; what was a dream now takes the substance of 
reality ; and when I offered you a son of mine I did 
so in a figure. That son — that husband, Asenath, is 
myself — not as you now behold me, but restored to 
the first energy of youth. You think me mad ? It 
is the customary attitude of ignorance. I will not 
argue; I will leave facts to speak. When you 
behold me purified, invigorated, renewed, re-stamped 
in the original image — when you recognise in me 
(what I shall be) the first perfect expression of the 
powers of mankind — I shall be able to laugh with a 
better grace at your passing and natural incredulity. 
To what can you aspire — fame, riches, power, the 
charm of youth, the dear-bought wisdom of age — 
that I shall not be able to afford you in perfection ? 
Do not deceive yourself. I already excel you in 
every human gift but one : when that gift also has 
been restored to me you will recognise your master,' 

6 7 



THE DYNAMITER 

Hereupon, consulting his watch, he told me he 
must now leave me to myself ; and bidding me con- 
sult reason, and not girlish fancies, he withdrew. I 
had not the courage to move ; the night fell, and 
found me still where he had laid me during my faint, 
my face buried in my hands, my soul drowned in 
the darkest apprehensions. Late in the evening he 
returned, carrying a candle, and, with a certain 
irritable tremor, bade me rise and sup. ' Is it 
possible,' he added, ' that I have been deceived in 
your courage ? A cowardly girl is no fit mate for me.' 

I flung myself before him on my knees, and with 
floods of tears besought him to release me from this 
engagement, assuring him that my cowardice was 
abject, and that in every point of intellect and 
character I was his hopeless and derisible inferior. 

' Why, certainly,' he replied. ' I know you better 
than yourself; and I am well enough acquainted 
with human nature to understand this scene. It is 
addressed to me,' he added, with a smile, 'in my 
character of the still untransformed. But do not 
alarm yourself about the future. Let me but attain 
my end, and not you only, Asenath, but every 
woman on the face of the earth becomes my willing 
slave.' 

Thereupon he obliged me to rise and eat ; sat down 
with me to table ; helped and entertained me with 
the attentions of a fashionable host ; and it was not 
till a late hour that, bidding me courteously good- 
night, he once more left me alone to my misery. 

In all this talk of an elixir and the restoration of 
68 



THE DESTROYING ANGEL 

his youth, I scarce knew from which hypothesis I 
should the more eagerly recoil. If his hopes reposed 
on any base of fact, if, indeed, by some abhorrent 
miracle he should discard his age, death were my 
only refuge from that most unnatural, that most 
ungodly union. If, on the other hand, these dreams 
were mere lunatic, the madness of a life waxed 
suddenly acute, my pity would become a load 
almost as heavy to bear as my revolt against the 
marriage. So passed the night, in alternations of 
rebellion and despair, of hate and pity ; and with 
the next morning I was only to comprehend more 
fully my enslaved position. For though he appeared 
with a very tranquil countenance, he had no sooner 
observed the marks of grief upon my brow than an 
answering darkness gathered on his own. 'Asenath,' 
he said, ' you owe me much already ; with one finger 
I still hold you suspended over death ; my life is 
full of labour and anxiety ; and I choose,' said he, 
with a remarkable accent of command, ' that you 
shall greet me with a pleasant face.' He never 
needed to repeat the recommendation : from that 
day forward I was always ready to receive him with 
apparent cheerfulness ; and he rewarded me with a 
good deal of his company, and almost more than I 
could bear of his confidence. He had set up a 
laboratory in the back part of the house, where he 
toiled day and night at his elixir, and he would come 
thence to visit me in my parlour : now with passing 
humours of discouragement ; now, and far more 
often, radiant with hope. It was impossible to see 

69 



THE DYNAMITER 

so much of him, and not to recognise that the sands 
of his life were running low ; and yet all the time 
he would be laying out vast fields of future, and 
planning, with all the confidence of youth, the most 
unbounded schemes of pleasure and ambition. How 
I replied I know not ; but I found a voice and 
words to answer, even while I wept and raged to 
hear him. 

A week ago the doctor entered my room with the 
marks of great exhilaration contending with pitiful 
bodily weakness. * Asenath,' said he, ' I have now 
obtained the last ingredient. In one week from 
now the perilous moment of the last projection will 
draw nigh. You have once before assisted, although 
unconsciously, at the failure of a similar experiment. 
It was the elixir which so terribly exploded one 
night when you were passing my house ; and it is 
idle to deny that the conduct of so delicate a pro- 
cess, among the million jars and trepidations of so 
great a city, presents a certain element of danger. 
From this point of view, I cannot but regret the 
perfect stillness of my house among the deserts ; 
but, on the other, hand, I have succeeded in prov- 
ing that the singularly unstable equilibrium of the 
elixir, at the moment of projection, is due rather 
to the impurity than to the nature of the ingredients ; 
and as all are now of an equal and exquisite nicety, 
I have little fear for the result. In a week then 
from to-day, my dear Asenath, this period of trial 
will be ended.' And he smiled upon me in a manner 
unusually paternal. 
70 



THE DESTROYING ANGEL 

I smiled back with my lips, but at my heart there 
raged the blackest and most unbridled terror. What 
if he failed ? And oh, tenfold worse ! what if he 
succeeded ? What detested and unnatural change- 
ling would appear before me to claim my hand? 
And could there, I asked myself with a dreadful 
sinking, be any truth in his boasts of an assured 
victory over my reluctance ? I knew him, indeed, 
to be masterful, to lead my life at a sign. Suppose, 
then, this experiment to succeed ; suppose him to 
return to me, hideously restored, like a vampire in 
a legend ; and suppose that, by some devilish fascina- 
tion . . . My head turned ; all former fears deserted 
me ; and I felt I could embrace the worst in pre- 
ference to this. 

My mind was instantly made up. The doctor's 
presence in London was justified by the affairs of the 
Mormon polity. Often, in our conversation, he 
would gloat over the details of that great organisa- 
tion, which he feared even while yet he wielded it ; 
and would remind me, that even in the humming 
labyrinth of London, we were still visible to that 
unsleeping eye in Utah. His visitors, indeed, who 
were of every sort, from the missionary to the 
destroying angel, and seemed to belong to every 
rank of life, had, up to that moment, filled me with 
unmixed repulsion and alarm. I knew that if my 
secret were to reach the ear of any leader my fate 
were sealed beyond redemption ; and yet in my 
present pass of horror and despair, it was to these 
very men that I turned for help. I waylaid upon 

7i 



THE DYNAMITER 

the stair one of the Mormon missionaries, a man of 
a low class, but not inaccessible to pity ; told him 
I scarce remember what elaborate fable to explain 
my application ; and by his intermediacy entered 
into correspondence with my father's family. They 
recognised my claim for help, and on this very day 
I was to begin my escape. 

Last night I sat up fully dressed, awaiting the 
result of the doctor's labours, and prepared against 
the worst. The nights at this season and in this 
northern latitude are short ; and I had soon the 
company of the returning daylight. The silence in 
and around the house was only broken by the move- 
ments of the doctor in the laboratory ; to these I 
listened, watch in hand, awaiting the hour of my 
escape, and yet consumed by anxiety about the 
strange experiment that was going forward overhead. 
Indeed, now that I was conscious of some protection 
for myself, my sympathies had turned more directly 
to the doctor's side ; I caught myself even praying 
for his success ; and when some hours ago a low, 
peculiar cry reached my ears from the laboratory, I 
could no longer control my impatience, but mounted 
the stairs and opened the door. 

The doctor was standing in the middle of the 
room ; in his hand a large, round-bellied, crystal 
flask, some three parts full of a bright amber-coloured 
liquid ; on his face a rapture of gratitude and joy 
unspeakable. 'As he saw me he raised the flask 
at arm's-length. * Victory ! ' he cried. ' Victory, 
Asenath ! ' And then — whether the flask escaped 
72 



THE DESTROYING ANGEL 

his trembling fingers, or whether the explosion were 
spontaneous, I cannot tell — enough that we were 
thrown, I against the door-post, the doctor into the 
corner of the room ; enough that we were shaken 
to the soul by the same explosion that must have 
startled you upon the street ; and that, in the brief 
space of an indistinguishable instant, there remained 
nothing of the labours of the doctor's lifetime but 
a few shards of broken crystal and those voluminous 
and ill-smelling vapours that pursued me in my 
flight. 



THE SQUIRE OF DAMES {concluded) 

What with the lady's animated manner and dramatic 
conduct of her voice, Challoner had thrilled to 
every incident with genuine emotion. His fancy, 
which was not perhaps of a very lively character, 
applauded both the matter and the style ; but the 
more judicial functions of his mind refused assent. 
It was an excellent story ; and it might be true, but 
he believed it was not. Miss Fonblanque was a 
lady, and it was doubtless possible for a lady to 
wander from the truth ; but how was a gentleman 
to tell her so ? His spirits for some time had been 
sinking, but they now fell to zero ; and long after 
her voice had died away he still sat with a troubled 
and averted countenance, and could find no form of 
words to thank her for her narrative. His mind, 

73 



THE DYNAMITER 

indeed, was empty of everything beyond a dull 
longing for escape. From this pause, which grew 
the more embarrassing with every second, he was 
roused by the sudden laughter of the lady. His 
vanity was alarmed ; he turned and faced her ; their 
eyes met ; and he caught from hers a spark of such 
frank merriment as put him instantly at ease. 

' You certainly,' he said, ' appear to bear your 
calamities with excellent spirit.' 

* Do I not ? ' she cried, and fell once more into 
delicious laughter. But from this access she more 
speedily recovered. ' This is all very well,' said she, 
nodding at him gravely, 'but I am still in a most 
distressing situation, from which, if you deny me 
your help, I shall find it difficult indeed to free 
myself.' 

At this mention of help Challoner fell back to his 
original gloom. 

' My sympathies are much engaged with you,' he 
said, ' and I should be delighted, I am sure. But our 
position is most unusual; and circumstances over 
which I have, I can assure you, no control, deprive 

me of the power — the pleasure Unless, indeed,' 

he added, somewhat brightening at the thought, ' I 
were to recommend you to the care of the police ? ' 

She laid her hand upon his arm and looked hard 
into his eyes ; and he saw with wonder that, for the 
first time since the moment of their meeting, every 
trace of colour had faded from her cheek. 

'Do so,' she said, 'and — weigh my words well — 
you kill me as certainly as with a knife.' 
74 



THE SQUIRE OF DAMES 

' God bless me ! ' exclaimed Challoner. 

* Oh,' she cried, ' I can see you disbelieve my story, 
and make light of the perils that surround me ; but 
who are you to judge ? My family share my appre- 
hensions ; they help me in secret ; and you saw 
yourself by what an emissary, and in what a place, 
they have chosen to supply me with the funds for 
my escape. I admit that you are brave and clever, 
and have impressed me most favourably ; but how 
are you to prefer your opinion before that of my 
uncle, an ex-minister of State, a man with the ear of 
the Queen, and of a long political experience ? If 
I am mad, is he ? And you must allow me, besides, 
a special claim upon your help. Strange as you may 
think my story, you know that much of it is true ; 
and if you who heard the explosion, and saw the 
Mormon at Victoria, refuse to credit and assist me, 
to whom am I to turn ? ' 

' He gave you money then ? ' asked Challoner, who 
had been dwelling singly on that fact. 

' I begin to interest you,' she cried. ' But, frankly, 
you are condemned to help me. If the service I 
had to ask of you were serious, were suspicious, 
were even unusual, I should say no more. But what 
is it ? To take a pleasure trip (for which, if you will 
suffer me, I propose to pay) and to carry from one 
lady to another a sum of money ! What can be 
more simple ? ' 

' Is the sum,' asked Challoner, ' considerable ? ' 

She produced a packet from her bosom ; and 
observing that she had not yet found time to make 

75 



THE DYNAMIfER 

the count, tore open the cover and spread upon her 
knees a considerable number of Bank of England 
notes. It took some time to make the reckoning, 
for the notes were of every degree of value ; but at 
last, and counting a few loose sovereigns, she made 
out the sum to be a little under £710 sterling. 
The sight of so much money worked an immediate 
revolution in the mind of Challoner. 

'And you propose, madam,' he cried, 'to intrust 
that money to a perfect stranger ? ' 

' Ah ! ' said she, with a charming smile, ' but I no 
longer regard you as a stranger.' 

' Madam,' said Challoner, ' I perceive I must make 
you a confession. Although of a very good family 
— through my mother, indeed, a lineal descendant 
of the patriot Bruce — I dare not conceal from you 
that my affairs are deeply, very deeply, involved. I 
am in debt ; my pockets are practically empty ; and, 
in short, I am fallen to that state when a consider- 
able sum of money would prove to many men an 
irresistible temptation.' 

' Do you not see,' returned the young lady, ' that 
by these words you have removed my last hesitation? 
Take them.' And she thrust the notes into the 
young man's hand. 

He sat so long, holding them, like a baby at the 
font, that Miss Fonblanque once more bubbled into 
laughter. 

*Pray,' she said, 'hesitate no further; put them 
in your pocket ; and to relieve our position of any 
shadow of embarrassment, tell me by what name I 
76 



THE SQUIRE OF DAMES 

am to address my knight-errant, for I find myself 
reduced to the awkwardness of the pronoun.' 

Had borrowing been in question, the wisdom of 
our ancestors had come lightly to the young man's 
aid ; but upon what pretext could he refuse so 
generous a trust ? Upon none, he saw, that was not 
unpardonably wounding ; and the bright eyes and 
the high spirits of his companion had already made 
a breach in the rampart of Challoner's caution. The 
whole thing, he reasoned, might be a mere mystifi- 
cation, which it were the height of solemn folly to 
resent. On the other hand, the explosion, the inter- 
view at the public-house, and the very money in his 
hands, seemed to prove beyond denial the existence 
of some serious danger ; and if that were so, could 
he desert her ? There was a choice of risks : the 
risk of behaving with extraordinary incivility and 
unhandsomeness to a lady, and the risk of going on 
a fool's errand. The story seemed false ; but then 
the money was undeniable. The whole circum- 
stances were questionable and obscure ; but the lady 
was charming, and had the speech and manners of 
society. While he still hung in the wind, a recol- 
lection returned upon his mind with some of the 
dignity of prophecy. Had he not promised Somerset 
to break with the traditions of the commonplace, 
and to accept the first adventure offered? Well, 
here was the adventure. 

He thrust the money into his pocket. 

' My name is Challoner,' said he. 

'Mr. Challoner,' she replied, 'you have come very 

77 



THE DYNAMITER 

generously to my aid when all was against me. 
Though I am myself a very humble person, my 
family commands great interest ; and I do not think 
you will repent this handsome action.' 

Challoner flushed with pleasure. 

* I imagine that, perhaps, a consulship,' she added, 
her eyes dwelling on him with a judicial admiration, 
' a consulship in some great town or capital — or 

else But we waste time ; let us set about the 

work of my delivery.' 

She took his arm with a frank confidence that 
went to his heart ; and once more laying by all serious 
thoughts, she entertained him, as they crossed the 
park, with her agreeable gaiety of mind. Near the 
Marble Arch they found a hansom, which rapidly 
conveyed them to the terminus at Euston Square ; 
and here, in the hotel, they sat down to an excellent 
breakfast. The young lady's first step was to call 
for writing materials, and write, upon one corner of 
the table, a hasty note ; still, as she did so, glancing 
with smiles at her companion. ' Here,' said she, 
* here is the letter which will introduce you to my 
cousin.' She began to fold the paper. ' My cousin, 
although I have never seen her, has the character of 
a very charming woman and a recognised beauty ; of 
that I know nothing, but at least she has been very 
kind to me ; so has my lord her father ; so have you 
— kinder than all — kinder than I can bear to think 
of.' She said this with unusual emotion ; and, at the 
same time, sealed the envelope. ' Ah ! ' she cried, ' I 
have shut my letter ! It is not quite courteous ; and 
78 



THE SQUIRE OF DAMES 

yet, as between friends, it is perhaps better so. I 
introduce you, after all, into a family secret; and 
though you and I are already old comrades, you are 
still unknown to my uncle. You go, then, to this 
address, Richard Street, Glasgow ; go, please, as soon 
as you arrive ; and give this letter with your own 
hands into those of Miss Fonblanque, for that is the 
name by which she is to pass. When we next meet, 
you will tell me what you think of her/ she added, 
with a touch of the provocative. 

* Ah,' said Challoner, almost tenderly, ' she can be 
nothing to me.' 

' You do not know,' replied the young lady, with 
a sigh. 'By the by, I had forgotten — it is very 
childish, and I am almost ashamed to mention it — 
but when you see Miss Fonblanque, you will have to 
make yourself a little ridiculous ; and I am sure the 
part in no way suits you. We had agreed upon a 
watchword. You will have to address an earl's 
daughter in these words : "Nigger, nigger, never 
die " ; but re-assure yourself,' she added, laughing, 
' for the fair patrician will at once finish the quota- 
tion. Come now, say your lesson.' 

« " Nigger, nigger, never die," ' repeated Challoner, 
with undisguised reluctance. 

Miss Fonblanque went into fits of laughter. ' Ex- 
cellent,' said she, 'it will be the most humorous 
scene ! ' And she laughed again. 

'And what will be the counterword ? ' asked 
Challoner stiffly. 

' I will not tell you till the last moment,' 

79 



THE DYNAMITER 

said she; 'for I perceive you are growing too 
imperious.' 

Breakfast over, she accompanied the young man 
to the platform, bought him the Graphic, the 
Athenceum, and a paper-cutter, and stood on the 
step conversing till the whistle sounded. Then she 
put her head into the carriage. * Black face and 
shining eye!' she whispered, and instantly leaped 
down upon the platform, with a trill of gay and 
musical laughter. As the train steamed out of the 
great arch of glass, the sound of that laughter still 
rang in the young man's ears. 

Challoner's position was too unusual to be long 
welcome to his mind. He found himself projected 
the whole length of England, on a mission beset 
with obscure and ridiculous circumstances, and yet, 
by the trust he had accepted, irrevocably bound to 
persevere. How easy it appeared, in the retrospect, 
to have refused the whole proposal, returned the 
money, and gone forth again upon his own affairs, 
a free and happy man ! And it was now impossible : 
the enchantress who had held him with her eye had 
now disappeared, taking his honour in pledge; and 
as she had failed to leave him an address, he was 
denied even the inglorious safety of retreat. To use 
the paper-knife, or even to read the periodicals with 
which she had presented him, was to renew the 
bitterness of his remorse ; and as he was alone in 
the compartment, he passed the day staring at the 
landscape in impotent repentance, and long before 
he was landed on the platform of St. Enoch's, had 
80 



THE SQUIRE OF DAMES 

fallen to the lowest and coldest zones of self- 
contempt. 

As he was hungry, and elegant in his habits, he 
would have preferred to dine and to remove the 
stains of travel ; but the words of the young lady, 
and his own impatient eagerness, would suffer no 
delay. In the late, luminous, and lamp-starred dusk 
of the summer evening he accordingly set forward 
with brisk steps. 

The street to which he was directed had first seen 
the day in the character of a row of small suburban 
villas on a hillside; but the extension of the city 
had, long since and on every hand, surrounded it 
with miles of streets. From the top of the hill a 
range of very tall buildings, densely inhabited by the 
poorest classes of the population and variegated by 
drying-poles from every second window, overplumbed 
the villas and their little gardens like a sea-board 
cliff. But still, under the grime of years of city 
smoke, these antiquated cottages, with their Venetian 
blinds and rural porticoes, retained a somewhat 
melancholy savour of the past. 

The street, when Challoner entered it, was per- 
fectly deserted. From hard by, indeed, the sound of 
a thousand footfalls filled the ear; but in Richard 
Street itself there was neither light nor sound of 
human habitation. The appearance of the neigh- 
bourhood weighed heavily on the mind of the young 
man ; once more, as in the streets of London, he was 
impressed with the sense of city deserts ; and as he 
approached the number indicated, and somewhat 
7— f 8 1 



THE DYNAMITER 

falteringly rang the bell, his heart sank within 
him. 

The bell was ancient, like the house ; it had a thin 
and garrulous note ; and it was some time before 
it ceased to sound from the rear quarters of the 
building. Following upon this an inner door was 
stealthily opened, and careful and catlike steps drew 
near along the hall. Challoner, supposing he was to 
be instantly admitted, produced his letter and, as 
well as he was able, prepared a smiling face. To his 
indescribable surprise, however, the footsteps ceased, 
and then, after a pause and with the like stealthiness, 
withdrew once more, and died away in the interior 
of the house. A second time the young man rang 
violently at the bell ; a second time, to his keen 
hearkening, a certain bustle of discreet footing moved 
upon the hollow boards of the old villa ; and again 
the faint-hearted garrison only drew near to retreat. 
The cup of the visitor's endurance was now full to 
overflowing; and, committing the whole family of 
Fonblanque to every mood and shade of condem- 
nation, he turned upon his heel and re-descended the 
steps. Perhaps the mover in the house was watch- 
ing from a window, and plucked up courage at the 
sight of this desistance ; or perhaps, where he lurked 
trembling in the back parts of the villa, reason in 
its own right had conquered his alarms. Challoner, 
at least, had scarce set foot upon the pavement when 
he was arrested by the sound of the withdrawal of 
an inner bolt; one followed another, rattling in 
their sockets ; the key turned harshly in the lock ; 
82 






THE SQUIRE OF DAMES 

the door opened ; and there appeared upon the 
threshold a man of a very stalwart figure in his shirt 
sleeves. He was a person neither of great manly- 
beauty nor of a refined exterior; he was not the 
man, in ordinary moods, to attract the eyes of the 
observer; but as he now stood in the doorway he 
was marked so legibly with the extreme passion of 
terror that Challoner stood wonder-struck. For a 
fraction of a minute they gazed upon each other in 
silence ; and then the man of the house, with ashen 
lips and gasping voice, inquired the business of his 
visitor. Challoner replied, in tones from which he 
strove to banish his surprise, that he was the bearer 
of a letter to a certain Miss Fonblanque. At this 
name, as at a talisman, the man fell back and im- 
patiently invited him to enter ; and no sooner had 
the adventurer crossed the threshold than the door 
was closed behind him and his retreat cut off. 

It was already long past eight at night ; and 
though the late twilight of the north still lingered in 
the streets, in the passage it was already groping 
dark. The man led Challoner directly to a parlour 
looking on the garden to the back. Here he had 
apparently been supping ; for by the light of a tallow 
dip, the table was seen to be covered with a napkin, 
and set out with a quart of bottled ale and the heel 
of a Gouda cheese. The room, on the other hand, 
was furnished with faded solidity, and the walls were 
fined with scholarly and costly volumes in glazed 
cases. The house must have been taken furnished ; 
for it had no congruity with this man of the shirt 

83 



THE DYNAMITER 

sleeves and the mean supper. As for the earl's 
daughter, the earl and the visionary consulships in 
foreign cities, they had long ago begun to fade in 
ChaDoner's imagination. Like Dr. Grierson and the 
Mormon angels, they were plainly woven of the 
stuff of dreams. Not an illusion remained to the 
knight-errant ; not a hope was left him but to be 
speedily relieved from this disreputable business. 

The man had continued to regard his visitor with 
undisguised anxiety, and began once more to press 
him for his errand. 

' I am here,' said Challoner, ' simply to do a service 
between two ladies ; and I must ask you, without 
further delay, to summon Miss Fonblanque, into 
whose hands alone I am authorised to deliver the 
letter that I bear.' 

A growing wonder began to mingle on the man's 
face with the lines of solicitude. ' I am Miss Fon- 
blanque,' he said ; and then, perceiving the effect of 
this communication, ' Good God ! ' he cried, ' what 
are you staring at ? I tell you I am Miss Fon- 
blanque.' 

Seeing the speaker wore a chin-beard of consider- 
able length, and the remainder of his face was blue 
with shaving, Challoner could only suppose himself 
the subject of a jest. He was no longer under the 
spell of the young lady's presence ; and with men, 
and above all with his inferiors, he was capable of 
some display of spirit. 

' Sir,' said he, pretty roundly, ' I have put myself 
to great inconvenience for persons of whom I know 
84 



THE SQUIRE OF DAMES 

too little, and I begin to be weary of the business. 
Either you shall immediately summon Miss Fon- 
blanque, or I leave this house and put myself under 
the direction of the police.' 

' This is horrible ! ' exclaimed the man. ' I declare 
before Heaven I am the person meant, but how shall 
I convince you ? It must have been Clara, I per- 
ceive, that sent you on this errand — a madwoman, 
who jests with the most deadly interests ; and here 
we are, incapable, perhaps, of an agreement, and 
Heaven knows what may depend on our delay ! ' 

He spoke with a really startling earnestness ; and 
at the same time there flashed upon the mind of 
Challoner the ridiculous jingle which was to serve as 
password. ' This may, perhaps, assist you,' he said ; 
and then, with some embarrassment : ' " Nigger, 
nigger, never die. 

A light of relief broke upon the troubled coun- 
tenance of the man with the chin-beard. ' " Black 
face and shining eye " — give me the letter,' he panted, 
in one gasp. 

'Well,' said Challoner, though still with some 
reluctance, 'I suppose I must regard you as the 
proper recipient ; and though I may justly complain 
of the spirit in which I have been treated, I am only 
too glad to be done with all responsibility. Here it 
is,' and he produced the envelope. 

The man leaped upon it like a beast, and with 
hands that trembled in a manner painful to behold, 
tore it open and unfolded the letter. As he read, 
terror seemed to mount upon him to the pitch of 

85 



THE DYNAMITER 

nightmare. He struck one hand upon his brow, 
while with the other, as if unconsciously, he crumpled 
the paper to a ball. ' My gracious powers ! ' he cried ; 
and then, dashing to the window, which stood open 
on the garden, he clapped forth his head and 
shoulders and whistled long and shrill. Challoner 
fell back into a corner, and resolutely grasping his 
staff, prepared for the most desperate events ; but 
the thoughts of the man with the chin-beard were 
far removed from violence. Turning again into the 
room, and once more beholding his visitor, whom he 
appeared to have forgotten, he fairly danced with 
trepidation. ' Impossible ! ' he cried. ' Oh, quite im- 
possible ! O Lord, I have lost my head.' And then, 
once more striking his hand upon his brow, 'The 
money ! ' he exclaimed. ' Give me the money.' 

* My good friend,' replied Challoner, ' this is a very 
painful exhibition ; and until I see you reasonably 
master of yourself, I decline to proceed with any 
business.' 

' You are quite right,' said the man. ' I am of a 
very nervous habit ; a long course of the dumb ague 
has undermined my constitution. But I know you 
have money ; it may be still the saving of me ; and 
oh, dear young gentleman, in pity's name be ex- 
peditious ! ' 

Challoner, sincerely uneasy as he was, could scarce 
refrain from laughter ; but he was himself in a hurry 
to be gone, and without more delay produced the 
money. 'You will find the sum, I trust, correct,' he 
observed ; ' and let me ask you to give me a receipt.' 
86 



THE SQUIRE OF DAMES 

But the man heeded him not. He seized the 
money, and disregarding the sovereigns that rolled 
loose upon the floor, thrust the bundle of notes into 
his pocket. 

* A receipt,' repeated Challoner, with some asperity. 
* I insist on a receipt.' 

< Receipt ? ' repeated the man, a little wildly. ' A 
receipt ? Immediately ! Await me here.' 

Challoner, in reply, begged the gentleman to lose 
no unnecessary time, as he was himself desirous of 
catching a particular train. 

'Ah, by God, and so am I ! ' exclaimed the man 
with the chin-beard ; and with that he was gone out 
of the room, and had rattled upstairs, four at a 
time, to the upper story of the villa. 

' This is certainly a most amazing business,' thought 
Challoner ; ' certainly a most disquieting affair ; and 
I cannot conceal from myself that I have become 
mixed up with either lunatics or malefactors. I may 
truly thank my stars that I am so nearly and so 
creditably done with it' Thus thinking, and per- 
haps remembering the episode of the whistle, he 
turned to the open window. The garden was still 
faintly clear; he could distinguish the stairs and 
terraces with which the small domain had been 
adorned by former owners, and the blackened bushes 
and dead trees that had once afforded shelter to the 
country birds ; beyond these he saw the strong retain- 
ing wall, some thirty feet in height, which enclosed 
the garden to the back ; and again above that, the 
pile of dingy buildings rearing its frontage high into 

%7 



THE DYNAMITER 

the night. A peculiar object lying stretched upon 
the lawn for some time baffled his eyesight ; but at 
length he had made it out to be a long ladder, or 
series of ladders bound into one ; and he was still won- 
dering of what service so great an instrument could 
be in such a scant enclosure, when he was recalled 
to himself by the noise of some one running violently 
down the stairs. This was followed by the sudden, 
clamorous banging of the house door ; and that again, 
by rapid and retreating footsteps in the street. 

Challoner sprang into the passage. He ran from 
room to room, upstairs and downstairs ; and in that 
old dingy and worm-eaten house, he found himself 
alone. Only in one apartment looking to the front 
were there any traces of the late inhabitant : a bed 
that had been recently slept in and not made, a 
chest of drawers disordered by a hasty search, and 
on the floor a roll of crumpled paper. This he picked 
up. The light in this upper story looking to the 
front was considerably brighter than in the parlour ; 
and he was able to make out that the paper bore the 
mark of the hotel at Euston, and even, by peering 
closely, to decipher the following lines in a very 
elegant and careful female hand : 

i Dear M'Guire, — It is certain your retreat is known. We 
have just had another failure, clockwork thirty hours too soon, 
with the usual humiliating result. Zero is quite disheartened. 
We are all scattered, and I could find no one but the solemn 
ass who brings you this and the money. I would love to see 
your meeting. — : Ever yours, Shining Eye.' 

Challoner was stricken to the" heart. He perceived 

88 



THE SQUIRE OF DAMES 

by what facility, by what unmanly fear of ridicule, 
he had been brought down to be the gull of this 
intriguer ; and his wrath flowed forth in almost equal 
measure against himself, against the woman, and 
against Somerset, whose idle counsels had impelled 
him to embark on that adventure. At the same 
time a great and troubled curiosity, and a certain 
chill of fear, possessed his spirit. The conduct of the 
man with the chin-beard, the terms of the letter, and 
the explosion of the early morning, fitted together 
like parts in some obscure and mischievous imbroglio. 
Evil was certainly afoot ; evil, secrecy, terror, and 
falsehood were the conditions and the passions of 
the people among whom he had begun to move, like 
a blind puppet ; and he who began as a puppet, his 
experience told him, was often doomed to perish as 
a victim. 

From the stupor of deep thought into which he 
had glided with the letter in his hand, he was 
awakened by the clatter of the bell. He glanced 
from the window ; and, conceive his horror and 
surprise when he beheld, clustered on the steps, in 
the front garden and on the pavement of the street, 
a formidable posse of police ! He started to the full 
possession of his powers and courage. Escape, and 
escape at any cost, was the one idea that possessed 
him. Swiftly and silently he re-descended the creak- 
ing stairs ; he was already in the passage when a 
second and more imperious summons from the door 
awoke the echoes of the empty house ; nor had the 
bell ceased to jangle before he had bestridden the 

89 



THE DYNAMITER 

window-sill of the parlour and was lowering himself 
into the garden. His coat was hooked upon the 
iron flower-basket ; for a moment he hung dependent 
heels and head below ; and then, with the noise 
of rending cloth and followed by several pots, he 
dropped upon the sod. Once more the bell was 
rung, and now with furious and repeated peals. The 
desperate Challoner turned his eyes on every side. 
They fell upon the ladder, and he ran to it, and with 
strenuous but unavailing effort sought to raise it 
from the ground. Suddenly the weight, which was 
thus resisting his whole strength, began to lighten in 
his hands ; the ladder, like a thing of life, reared its 
bulk from off the sod ; and Challoner, leaping back 
with a cry of almost superstitious terror, beheld the 
whole structure mount, foot by foot, against the face 
of the retaining- wall. At the same time, two heads 
were dimly visible above the parapet, and he was 
hailed by a guarded whistle. Something in its 
modulation recalled, like an echo, the whistle of the 
man with the chin -beard. 

Had he chanced upon a means of escape pre- 
pared beforehand by those very miscreants, whose 
messenger and gull he had become ? Was this, 
indeed, a means of safety, or but the starting-point 
of further complication and disaster ? He paused 
not to reflect. Scarce was the ladder reared to its 
full length than he had sprung already on the 
rounds ; hand over hand, swift as an ape, he scaled 
the tottering stairway. Strong arms received, em- 
braced, and helped him ; he was lifted and set once 
90 



THE SQUIRE OF DAMES 

more upon the earth; and with the spasm of his 
alarm yet unsubsided, found himself, in the company 
of two rough-looking men, in the paved back-yard of 
one of the tall houses that crowned the summit of 
the hill. Meanwhile, from below, the note of the 
bell had been succeeded by the sound of vigorous 
and redoubling blows. 

* Are you all out ? ' asked one of his companions ; 
and as soon as he had babbled an answer in the 
affirmative, the rope was cut from the top round, 
and the ladder thrust roughly back into the garden, 
where it fell and broke with clattering reverberations. 
Its fall was hailed with many broken cries ; for the 
whole of Richard Street was now in high emotion, 
the people crowding to the windows or clambering 
on the garden walls. The same man who had 
already addressed Challoner seized him by the arm ; 
whisked him through the basement of the house and 
across the street upon the other side; and before 
the unfortunate adventurer had time to realise his 
situation, a door was opened and he was thrust into 
a low and dark compartment. 

' Bedad,' observed his guide, « there was no time to 
lose. Is M'Guire gone, or was it you that whistled V 

' M'Guire is gone,' said Challoner. 

The guide now struck a light. ' Ah,' said he, 
'this will never do. You dare not go upon the 
streets in such a figure. Wait quietly here and I 
will bring you something decent.' 

With that the man was gone, and Challoner, his 
attention thus rudely awakened, began ruefully to 

9i 



THE DYNAMITER 

consider the havoc that had been worked in his 
attire. His hat was gone ; his trousers were cruelly 
ripped; and the best part of one tail of his very- 
elegant frock-coat had been left hanging from the 
iron crockets of the window. He had scarce had 
time to measure these disasters when his host re- 
entered the apartment and proceeded, without a 
word, to envelop the refined and urbane Challoner 
in a long ulster of the cheapest material and of a 
pattern so gross and vulgar that his spirit sickened 
at the sight. This calumnious disguise was crowned 
and completed by a soft felt hat of the Tyrolese 
design and several sizes too small. At another 
moment Challoner would simply have refused to 
issue forth upon the world thus travestied ; but the 
desire to escape from Glasgow was now too strongly 
and too exclusively impressed upon his mind. With 
one haggard glance at the spotted tails of his new 
coat, he inquired what was to pay for this accoutre- 
ment. The man assured him that the whole expense 
was easily met from funds in his possession, and 
begged him, instead of wasting time, to make his 
best speed out of the neighbourhood. 

The young man was not loath to take the hint. 
True to his usual courtesy, he thanked the speaker 
and complimented him upon his taste in greatcoats ; 
and leaving the man somewhat abashed by these 
remarks and the manner of their delivery, he hurried 
forth into the lamp-lit city. The last train was 
gone ere, after many deviations, he had reached the 
terminus. Attired as he was he dared not present 
92 



THE SQUIRE OF DAMES 

himself at any reputable inn ; and he felt keenly 
that the unassuming dignity of his demeanour would 
serve to attract attention, perhaps mirth, and possibly 
suspicion, in any humbler hostelry. He was thus 
condemned to pass the solemn and uneventful hours 
of a whole night in pacing the streets of Glasgow ; 
supperless ; a figure of fun for all beholders ; waiting 
the dawn, with hope indeed, but with unconquerable 
shrinkings ; and above all things, filled with a pro- 
found sense of the folly and weakness of his conduct. 
It may be conceived with what curses he assailed 
the memory of the fair narrator of Hyde Park ; her 
parting laughter rang in his ears all night with 
damning mockery and iteration ; and when he could 
spare a thought from this chief artificer of his con- 
fusion, it was to expend his wrath on Somerset 
and the career of the amateur detective. With the 
coming of day, he found in a shy milk-shop the 
means to appease his hunger. There were still many 
hours to wait before the departure of the south 
express ; these he passed wandering with indescrib- 
able fatigue in the obscurer by-streets of the city ; 
and at length slipped quietly into the station and 
took his place in the darkest corner of a third-class 
carriage. Here, all day long, he jolted on the bare 
boards, distressed by heat and continually re-awakened 
from uneasy slumbers. By the half return ticket in 
his purse, he was entitled to make the journey on 
the easy cushions and with the ample space of the 
first-class ; but alas ! in his absurd attire, he durst 
not, for decency, commingle with his equals ; and 

93 



THE DYNAMITER 

this small annoyance, coming last in such a series of 
disasters, cut him to the heart. 

That night, when, in his Putney lodging, he 
reviewed the expense, anxiety, and weariness of his 
adventure ; when he beheld the ruins of his last 
good trousers and his last presentable coat; and 
above all, when his eye by any chance alighted on 
the Tyrolese hat or the degrading ulster, his heart 
would overflow with bitterness, and it was only by 
a serious call on his philosophy that he maintained 
the dignity of his demeanour. 



94 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 



SOMERSET'S ADVENTURE: THE SUPER- 
FLUOUS MANSION 

Mr. Paul Somerset was a young gentleman of a 
lively and fiery imagination, with very small capacity 
for action. He was one who lived exclusively in 
dreams and in the future : the creature of his own 
theories, and an actor in his own romances. From 
the cigar divan he proceeded to parade the streets, 
still heated with the fire of his eloquence, and scout- 
ing upon every side for the offer of some fortunate 
adventure. In the continual stream of passers-by, 
on the sealed fronts of houses, on the posters that 
covered the hoardings, and in every lineament and 
throb of the great city, he saw a mysterious and 
hopeful hieroglyph. But although the elements of 
adventure were streaming by him as thick as drops 
of water in the Thames, it was in vain that, now 
with a beseeching, now with something of a bragga- 
docio air, he courted and provoked the notice of 
the passengers ; in vain that, putting fortune to the 
touch, he even thrust himself into the way and came 
into direct collision with those of the more promis- 

95 



THE DYNAMITER 

ing demeanour. Persons brimful of secrets, persons 
pining for affection, persons perishing for lack of 
help or counsel, he was sure he could perceive on 
every side ; but by some contrariety of fortune, each 
passed upon his way without remarking the young 
gentleman, and went farther (surely to fare worse !) 
in quest of the confidant, the friend, or the adviser. 
To thousands he must have turned an appealing 
countenance, and yet not one regarded him. 

A light dinner, eaten to the accompaniment of 
his impetuous aspirations, broke in upon the series 
of his attempts on fortune ; and when he returned 
to the task, the lamps were already lighted, and 
the nocturnal crowd was dense upon the pavement. 
Before a certain restaurant, whose name will readily 
occur to any student of our Babylon, people were 
already packed so closely that passage had grown diffi- 
cult ; and Somerset, standing in the kennel, watched, 
with a hope that was beginning to grow somewhat 
weary, the faces and the manners of the crowd. 
Suddenly he was startled by a gentle touch upon 
the shoulder, and facing about, he was aware of a 
very plain and elegant brougham, drawn by a pair 
of powerful horses, and driven by a man in sober 
livery. There were no arms upon the panel ; the 
window was open, but the interior was obscure ; 
the driver yawned behind his palm ; and the young 
man was already beginning to suppose himself the 
dupe of his own fancy, when a hand, no larger than 
a child's and smoothly gloVed in white, appeared in 
a corner of the window and privily beckoned him to 
96 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

approach. He did so, and looked in. The carriage 
was occupied by a single small and very dainty 
figure, swathed head and shoulders in impenetrable 
folds of white lace ; and a voice, speaking low and 
silvery, addressed him in these words : 

' Open the door and get in.' 

' It must be,' thought the young man, with an 
almost unbearable thrill, ' it must be that duchess at 
last ! ' Yet, although the moment was one to which 
he had long looked forward, it was with a certain 
share of alarm that he opened the door, and, mount- 
ing into the brougham, took his seat beside the lady 
of the lace. Whether or no she had touched a 
spring, or given some other signal, the young man 
had hardly closed the door before the carriage, with 
considerable swiftness, and with a very luxurious 
and easy movement on its springs, turned and began 
to drive towards the west. 

Somerset, as I have written, was not unprepared ; 
it had long been his particular pleasure to rehearse 
his conduct in the most unlikely situations ; and 
this, among others, of the patrician ravisher, was 
one he had familiarly studied. Strange as it may 
seem, however, he could find no apposite remark ; 
and as the lady, on her side, vouchsafed no further 
sign, they continued to drive in silence through the 
streets. Except for alternate flashes from the pass- 
ing lamps, the carriage was plunged in obscurity ; 
and beyond the fact that the fittings were luxurious, 
and that the lady was singularly small and slender in 
person and, all but one gloved hand, still swathed 
7— g 97 



THE DYNAMITER 

in her costly veil, the young man could decipher no 
detail of an inspiring nature. The suspense began 
to grow unbearable. Twice he cleared his throat, 
and twice the whole resources of the language failed 
him. In similar scenes, when he had forecast them 
on the theatre of fancy, his presence of mind had 
always been complete, his eloquence remarkable; 
and at this disparity between the rehearsal and the 
performance, he began to be seized with a panic of 
apprehension. Here, on the very threshold of adven- 
ture, suppose him ignominiously to fail ; suppose that 
after ten, twenty, or sixty seconds of still uninter- 
rupted silence, the lady should touch the check-string 
and re-deposit him, weighed and found wanting, on 
the common street! Thousands of persons of no 
mind at all, he reasoned, would be found more equal 
to the part ; could, that very instant, by some decisive 
step, prove the lady's choice to have been well 
inspired, and put a stop to this intolerable silence. 

His eye, at this point, lighted on the hand. It 
was better to fall by desperate councils than to 
continue as he was ; and with one tremulous swoop he 
pounced on the gloved fingers and drew them to him- 
self. One overt step, it had appeared to him, would 
dissolve the spell of his embarrassment; in act, he 
found it otherwise : he found himself no less incap- 
able of speech or further progress ; and, with the 
lady's hand in his, sat helpless. But worse was in 
store. A peculiar quivering began to agitate the 
form of his companion ; the hand that lay un- 
resistingly in Somerset's trembled as with ague ; and 
98 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

presently there broke forth, in the shadow of the 
carriage, the bubbling and musical sound of laughter, 
resisted but triumphant. The young man dropped 
his prize ; had it been possible, he would have 
bounded from the carriage. The lady, meanwhile, 
lying back upon the cushions, passed on from trill 
to trill of the most heartfelt, high-pitched, clear, and 
fairy-sounding merriment. 

* You must not be offended,' she said at last, 
catching an opportunity between two paroxysms. 
* If you have been mistaken in the warmth of your 
attentions, the fault is solely mine ; it does not flow 
from your presumption, but from my eccentric 
manner of recruiting friends ; and, believe me, I 
am the last person in the world to think the worse 
of a young man for showing spirit. As for to-night, 
it is my intention to entertain you to a little supper ; 
and if I shall continue to be as much pleased with 
your manners as I was taken with your face, I may 
perhaps end by making you an advantageous offer.' 

Somerset sought in vain to find some form of 
answer, but his discomfiture had been too recent 
and complete. 

* Come,' returned the lady, * we must have no 
display of temper ; that is for me the one disqualify- 
ing fault ; and as I perceive we are drawing near 
our destination, I shall ask you to descend and offer 
me your arm.' 

Indeed, at that very moment, the carriage drew 
up before a stately and severe mansion in a spacious 
square; and Somerset, who was possessed of an 

99 



THE DYNAMITER 

excellent temper, with the best grace in the world 
assisted the lady to alight. The door was opened 
by an old woman of a grim appearance, who ushered 
the pair into a dining-room somewhat dimly lighted, 
but already laid for supper, and occupied by a pro- 
digious company of large and valuable cats. Here, 
as soon as they were alone, the lady divested herself 
of the lace in which she was enfolded ; and Somerset 
was relieved to find, that although still bearing the 
traces of great beauty, and still distinguished by the 
fire and colour of her eye, her hair was of a silvery 
whiteness and her face lined with years. 

' And now, mon preuoc,' said the old lady, nodding 
at him with a quaint gaiety, ' you perceive that I am 
no longer in my first youth. You will soon find 
that I am all the better company for that.' 

As she spoke, the maid re-entered the apartment 
with a light but tasteful supper. They sat down, 
accordingly, to table, the cats with savage panto- 
mime surrounding the old lady's chair ; and what 
with the excellence of the meal and the gaiety of 
his entertainer, Somerset was soon completely at 
his ease. When they had well eaten and drunk, 
the old lady leaned back in her chair, and taking a 
cat upon her lap, subjected her guest to a prolonged 
but evidently mirthful scrutiny. 

' I fear, madam,' said Somerset, ' that my manners 
have not risen to the height of your preconceived 
opinion.' 

' My dear young man,' she replied, ' you were 
never more mistaken in your life. I find you 
ioo 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

charming, and you may very well have lighted on 
a fairy godmother. I am not one of those who are 
given to change their opinions, and short of sub- 
stantial demerit, those who have once gained my 
favour continue to enjoy it ; but I have a, singular 
swiftness of decision, read my fellow men and 
women with a glance, and have acted throughout 
life on first impressions. Yours, as I tell you, has 
been favourable ; and if, as I suppose, you are a 
young fellow of somewhat idle habits, I think it 
not improbable that we may strike a bargain.' 

'Ah, madam,' returned Somerset, "you have 
divined my situation. I am a man of birth, parts, 
and breeding; excellent company, or at least so I 
find myself; but by a peculiar iniquity of fate, 
destitute alike of trade or money. I was, indeed, 
this evening upon the quest of an adventure, re- 
solved to close with any offer of interest, emolument, 
or pleasure ; and your summons, which I profess I 
am still at some loss to understand, jumped naturally 
with the inclination of my mind. Call it, if you 
will, impudence ; I am here, at least, prepared for 
any proposition you can find it in your heart to 
make, and resolutely determined to accept.' 

'You express yourself very well,' replied the old 
lady, ' and are certainly a droll and curious young 
man. I should not care to affirm that you were 
sane, for I have never found any one entirely so 
besides myself; but at least the nature of your 
madness entertains me, and I will reward you with 
some description of my character and life.' 

IOI 



THE DYNAMITER 

Thereupon the old lady, still fondling the cat 
upon her lap, proceeded to narrate the following 
particulars. 



NARRATIVE OF THE SPIRITED 
OLD LADY 

I was the eldest daughter of the Reverend Bernard 
Fanshawe, who held a valuable living in the diocese 
of Bath and Wells. Our family, a very large one, 
was noted for a sprightly and incisive wit, and came 
of a good old stock where beauty was an heirloom. 
In Christian grace of character we were unhappily 
deficient. From my earliest years I saw and 
deplored the defects of those relatives whose age 
and position should have enabled them to conquer 
my esteem ; and while I was yet a child, my father 
married a second wife, in whom (strange to say) the 
Fanshawe failings were exaggerated to a monstrous 
and almost laughable degree. Whatever may be 
said against me, it cannot be denied I was a pattern 
daughter; but it was in vain that, with the most 
touching patience, I submitted to my stepmother's 
demands ; and from the hour she entered my father's 
house, I may say that I met with nothing but in- 
justice and ingratitude. 

I stood not ak>ne, however, in the sweetness of 

my disposition ; for one other of the family besides 

myself was free from any violence of character. 

Before I had reached the age of sixteen, this cousin, 

102 



THE SPIRITED OLD LADY 

John by name, had conceived for me a sincere but 
silent passion ; and although the poor lad was too 
timid to hint at the nature of his feelings, I had soon 
divined and begun to share them. For some days I 
pondered on the odd situation created for me by the 
bashfulness of my admirer ; and at length, perceiving 
that he began, in his distress, rather to avoid than 
seek my company, I determined to take the matter 
into my own hands. Finding him alone in a retired 
part of the rectory garden, I told him that I had 
divined his amiable secret ; that I knew with what 
disfavour our union was sure to be regarded ; and 
that, under the circumstances, I was prepared to flee 
with him at once. Poor John was literally paralysed 
with joy ; such was the force of his emotions, that he 
could find no words in which to thank me ; and that 
I, seeing him thus helpless, was obliged to arrange, 
myself, the details of our flight, and of the stolen 
marriage which was immediately to crown it. John 
had been at that time projecting a visit to the 
metropolis. In this I bade him persevere, and 
promised on the following day to join him at the 
Tavistock Hotel. 

True, on my side, to every detail of our arrange- 
ment, I arose, on the day in question, before the 
servants, packed a few necessaries in a bag, took 
with me the little money I possessed, and bade 
farewell for ever to the rectory. I walked with good 
spirits to a town some thirty miles from home ; and 
was set down the next morning in this great city of 
London. As I walked from the coach-office to the 

103 



THE DYNAMITER 

hotel, I could not help exulting in the pleasant 
change that had befallen me ; beholding, meanwhile, 
with innocent delight, the traffic of the streets, and 
depicting, in all the colours of fancy, the reception 
that awaited me from John. But alas ! when I 
inquired for Mr. Fanshawe, the porter assured me 
there was no such gentleman among the guests. By 
what channel our secret had leaked out, or what 
pressure had been brought to bear on the too facile 
John, I could never fathom. Enough that my 
family had triumphed ; that I found myself alone 
in London, tender in years, smarting under the most 
sensible mortification, and by every sentiment of 
pride and self-respect debarred for ever from my 
father's house. 

I rose under the blow, and found lodgings in the 
neighbourhood of Euston Road, where, for the first 
time in my life, I tasted the joys of independence. 
Three days afterwards, an advertisement in The 
Times directed me to the office of a solicitor whom I 
knew to be in my father's confidence. There I was 
given the promise of a very moderate allowance, and 
a distinct intimation that I must never look to be 
received at home. I could not but resent so cruel a 
desertion, and I told the lawyer it was a meeting I 
desired as little as themselves. He smiled at my 
courageous spirit, paid me the first quarter of my 
income, and gave me the remainder of my personal 
effects, which had been sent to me, under his care, 
in a couple of rather ponderous boxes. With these 
I returned in triumph to my lodgings, more content 
104 



THE SPIRITED OLD LADY 

with my position than I should have thought possible 
a week before, and fully determined to make the best 
of the future. 

All went well for several months ; and, indeed, it 
was my own fault alone that ended this pleasant and 
secluded episode of life. I have, I must confess, the 
fatal trick of spoiling my inferiors. My landlady, to 
whom I had as usual been overkind, impertinently 
called me in fault for some particular too small to 
mention ; and I, annoyed that I had allowed her the 
freedom upon which she thus presumed, ordered her 
to leave my presence. She stood a moment dumb, 
and then, recalling her self-possession, 'Your bill,' 
said she, ' shall be ready this evening, and to-morrow, 
madam, you shall leave my house. See,' she added, 
' that you are able to pay what you owe me ; for if I 
do not receive the uttermost farthing, no box of 
yours shall pass my threshold.' 

I was confounded at her audacity, but, as a whole 
quarter's income was due to me, not otherwise 
affected by the threat. That afternoon, as I left 
the solicitor's door, carrying in one hand, and done 
up in a paper parcel, the whole amount of my for- 
tune, there befell me one of those decisive incidents 
that sometimes shape a life. The lawyer's office was 
situate in a street that opened at the upper end upon 
the Strand and was closed at the lower, at the time 
of which I speak, by a row of iron railings looking 
on the Thames. Down this street, then, I beheld 
my stepmother advancing to meet me, and doubtless 
bound to the very house I had just left. She was 

105 



THE DYNAMITER 

attended by a maid whose face was new to me ; but 
her own was too clearly printed on my memory ; and 
the sight of it, even from a distance, filled me with 
generous indignation. Flight was impossible. There 
was nothing left but to retreat against the railing, 
and with my back turned to the street, pretend to 
be admiring the barges on the river or the chimneys 
of transpontine London. 

I was still so standing, and had not yet fully 
mastered the turbulence of my emotions, when a 
voice at my elbow addressed me with a trivial ques- 
tion. It was the maid whom my stepmother, with 
characteristic hardness, had left to await her on the 
street, while she transacted her business with the 
family solicitor. The girl did not know who I was ; 
the opportunity was too golden to be lost ; and I was 
soon hearing the latest news of my father's rectory 
and parish. It did not surprise me to find that she 
detested her employers ; and yet the terms in which 
she spoke of them were hard to bear, hard to let pass 
unchallenged. I heard them, however, without dis- 
sent, for my self-command is wonderful ; and we 
might have parted as we met, had she not proceeded, 
in an evil hour, to criticise the rector's missing 
daughter, and with the most shocking perversions 
to narrate the story of her flight. My nature is so 
essentially generous that I can never pause to reason. 
I flung up my hand sharply, by way, as well as I 
remember, of indignant protest ; and, in the act, the 
packet slipped from my fingers, glanced between the 
railings, and fell and sunk in the river. I stood a 
1 06 



THE SPIRITED OLD LADY 

moment petrified, and then, struck by the drollery of 
the incident, gave way to peals of laughter. I was 
still laughing when my stepmother reappeared, and 
the maid, who doubtless considered me insane, ran 
off to join her ; nor had I yet recovered my gravity 
when I presented myself before the lawyer to solicit 
a fresh advance. His answer made me serious 
enough, for it was a flat refusal ; and it was not 
until I had besought him even with tears, that he 
consented to lend me ten pounds from his own 
pocket. ' I am a poor man,' said he, ' and you must 
look for nothing further at my hands.' 

The landlady met me at the door. 'Here, madam,' 
said she, with a curtsey insolently low, * here is my 
bill. Would it inconvenience you to settle it at 
once ? ' 

* You shall be paid, madam,' said I, ' in the morn- 
ing, in the proper course.' And I took the paper 
with a very high air, but inwardly quaking. 

I had no sooner looked at it than I perceived 
myself to be lost. I had been short of money and 
had allowed my debt to mount ; and it had now 
reached the sum, which I shall never forget, of 
twelve pounds thirteen and fourpence halfpenny. 
All evening I sat by the fire considering my situa- 
tion. I could not pay the bill ; my landlady would 
not suffer me to remove my boxes ; and without 
either baggage or money, how was I to find another 
lodging? For three months, unless I could invent 
some remedy, I was condemned to be without a 
roof and without a penny. It can surprise no one 

107 



THE DYNAMITER 

that I decided on immediate flight ; but even here I 
was confronted by a difficulty, for I had no sooner 
packed my boxes than I found I was not strong 
enough to move, far less to carry them. 

In this strait I did not hesitate a moment, but 
throwing on a shawl and bonnet, and covering my 
face with a thick veil, I betook myself to that great 
bazaar of dangerous and smiling chances, the pave- 
ment of the city. It was already late at night, and 
the weather being wet and windy, there were few 
abroad besides policemen. These, on my present 
mission, I had wit enough to know for enemies ; and 
wherever I perceived their moving lanterns, I made 
haste to turn aside and choose another thoroughfare. 
A few miserable women still walked the pavement ; 
here and there were young fellows returning drunk, 
or ruffians of the lowest class lurking in the mouths 
of alleys ; but of any one to whom I might appeal in 
my distress, I began almost to despair. 

At last, at the corner of a street, I ran into the 
arms of one who was evidently a gentleman, and 
who, in all his appointments, from his furred great- 
coat to the fine cigar which he was smoking, com- 
fortably breathed of wealth. Much as my face has 
changed from its original beauty, I still retain (or so 
I tell myself) some traces of the youthful lightness 
of my figure. Even veiled as I then was, I could 
perceive the gentleman was struck by my appear- 
ance ; and this emboldened me for my adventure. 

' Sir,' said I, with a quickly beating heart, ' sir, are 
you one in whom a lady can confide ? ' 
1 08 



THE SPIRITED OLD LADY 

' Why, my dear,' said he, removing his cigar, 'that 
depends on circumstances. If you will raise your 
veil ' 

' Sir,' I interrupted, ' let there be no mistake. I 
ask you, as a gentleman, to serve me, but I offer no 
reward.' 

'That is frank,' said he; 'but hardly tempting. 
And what, may I inquire, is the nature of the 
service ? ' 

But I knew well enough it was not my interest to 
tell him on so short an interview. 'If you will 
accompany me,' said I, ' to a house not far from here, 
you can see for yourself.' 

He looked at me a while with hesitating eyes ; 
and then, tossing away his cigar, which was not yet 
a quarter smoked, ' Here goes ! ' said he, and with 
perfect politeness offered me his arm. I was wise 
enough to take it; to prolong our walk as far as 
possible, by more than one excursion from the 
shortest line; and to beguile the way with that 
sort of conversation which should prove to him 
indubitably from what station in society I sprang. 
By the time we reached the door of my lodging, I 
felt sure I had confirmed his interest, and might 
venture, before I turned the pass-key, to beseech 
him to moderate his voice and to tread softly. He 
promised to obey me ; and I admitted him into the 
passage and thence into my sitting-room, which was 
fortunately next the door. 

'And now,' said he, when with trembling fingers I 
had lighted a candle, 'what is the meaning of all this?' 

109 



THE DYNAMITER 

' I wish you,' said I, speaking with great difficulty, 
'to help me out with these boxes — and I wish 
nobody to know.' 

He took up the candle. ' And I wish to see your 
face,' said he. 

I turned back my veil without a word, and looked 
at him with every appearance of resolve that I could 
summon up. For some time he gazed into my face, 
still holding up the candle. ' Well,' said he at last, 
' and where do you wish them taken ? ' 

I knew that I had gained my point ; and it was 
with a tremor in my voice that I replied. ' I had 
thought we might carry them between us to the 
corner of Euston Road,' said I, 'where, even at this 
late hour, we may still find a cab.' 

'Very good,' was his reply; and he immediately 
hoisted the heavier of my trunks upon his shoulder, 
and taking one handle of the second, signed to me 
to help him at the other end. In this order we 
made good our retreat from the house, and without 
the least adventure, drew pretty near to the corner 
of Euston Road. Before a house, where there was 
a light still burning, my companion paused. 'Let 
us here,' said he, ' set down our boxes, while we go 
forward to the end of the street in quest of a cab. 
By doing so, we can still keep an eye upon their 
safety ; and we avoid the very extraordinary figure 
we should otherwise present — a young man, a young 
lady, and a mass of baggage, standing castaway at 
midnight on the streets of London.' So it was done, 
and the event proved him to be wise ; for long before 
no 



THE SPIRITED OLD LADY 

there was any word of a cab, a policeman appeared 
upon the scene, turned upon us the full glare of his 
lantern, and hung suspiciously behind us in a door- 
way. 

* There seem to be no cabs about, policeman,' said 
my champion, with affected cheerfulness. But the 
constable's answer was ungracious ; and as for the 
offer of a cigar, with which this rebuff was most 
unwisely followed up, he refused it point-blank, and 
without the least civility. The young gentleman 
looked at me with a warning grimace, and there we 
continued to stand, on the edge of the pavement, in 
the beating rain, and with the policeman still silently 
watching our movements from the doorway. 

At last, and after a delay that seemed interminable, 
a four-wheeler appeared lumbering along in the mud, 
and was instantly hailed by my companion. ' Just 
pull up here, will you ? ' he cried. ' We have some 
baggage up the street.' 

And now came the hitch of our adventure ; for 
when the policeman, still closely following us, beheld 
my two boxes lying in the rain, he arose from mere 
suspicion to a kind of certitude of something evil. 
The light in the house had been extinguished ; the 
whole frontage of the street was dark; there was 
nothing to explain the presence of these unguarded 
trunks ; and no two innocent people were ever, I 
believe, detected in such questionable circumstances. 

' Where have these things come from ? ' asked the 
policeman, flashing his light full into my champion's 
face. 

m 



THE DYNAMITER 

' Why, from that house, of course,' replied the 
young gentleman, hastily shouldering a trunk. 

The policeman whistled and turned to look at the 
dark windows ; he then took a step towards the door, 
as though to knock, a course which had infallibly 
proved our ruin ; but seeing us already hurrying 
down the street under our double burthen, thought 
better or worse of it, and followed in our wake. 

'For God's sake,' whispered my companion, 'tell 
me where to drive to.' 

' Anywhere,' I replied, with anguish. ' I have no 
idea. Anywhere you like.' 

Thus it befell that, when the boxes had been 
stowed and I had already entered the cab, my 
deliverer called out in clear tones the address of 
the house in which we are now seated. The police- 
man, I could see,, was staggered. This neighbour- 
hood, so retired, so aristocratic, was far from what he 
had expected. For all that, he took the number of 
the cab, and spoke for a few seconds and with a 
decided manner, in the cabman's ear. 

' What can he have said ? ' I gasped, as soon as 
the cab had rolled away. 

' I can very well imagine,' replied my champion ; 
' and I can assure you that you are now condemned 
to go where I have said ; for, should we attempt to 
change our destination by the way, the jarvey will 
drive us straight to a police-office. Let me com- 
pliment you on your nerves,' he added. ' I have 
had, I believe, the most horrible fright of my exist- 
ence.' 

112 



THE SPIRITED OLD LADY 

But my nerves, which he so much misjudged, 
were in so strange a disarray that speech was now 
become impossible ; and we made the drive thence- 
forward in unbroken silence. When we arrived 
before the door of our destination, the young gentle- 
man alighted, opened it with a pass-key like one 
who was at home, bade the driver carry the trunks 
into the hall, and dismissed him with a handsome 
fee. He then led me into this dining-room, looking 
nearly as you behold it, but with certain marks of 
bachelor occupancy, and hastened to pour out a 
glass of wine, which he insisted on my drinking. 
As soon as I could find my voice, ' In God's name,' 
I cried, ' where am I ? ' 

He told me I was in his house, where I was very 
welcome, and had no more urgent business than to 
rest myself and recover my spirits. As he spoke 
he offered me another glass of wine, of which, 
indeed, I stood in great want, for I was faint, and 
inclined to be hysterical. Then he sat down beside 
the fire, lit another cigar, and for some time observed 
me curiously in silence. 

' And now,' said he, ' that you have somewhat 
restored yourself, will you be kind enough to tell 
me in what sort of crime I have become a partner ? 
Are you murderer, smuggler, thief, or only the 
harmless and domestic moonlight flitter ? ' 

I had been already shocked by his lighting a cigar 

without permission, for I had not forgotten the one 

he threw away on our first meeting; and now, at 

these explicit insults, I resolved at once to re- 

7— h 113 



THE DYNAMITER 

conquer his esteem. The judgment of the world 
I have consistently despised, but I had already 
begun to set a certain value on the good opinion of 
my entertainer. Beginning with a note of pathos, 
but soon brightening into my habitual vivacity and 
humour, I rapidly narrated the circumstances of my 
birth, my flight, and subsequent misfortunes. He 
heard me to an end in silence, gravely smoking. 
* Miss Fanshawe,' said he, when I had done, ' you 
are a very comical and most enchanting creature ; and 
I can see nothing for it but that I should return to- 
morrow morning and satisfy your landlady's demands.' 

'You strangely misinterpret my confidence,' was 
my reply ; ' and if you had at all appreciated my 
character, you would understand that I can take no 
money at your hands.' 

' Your landlady will doubtless not be so particular,' 
he returned, ' ndr do I at all despair of persuading 
even your unconquerable self. I desire you to 
examine me with critical indulgence. My name is 
Henry Luxmore, Lord Southwark's second son. I 
possess nine thousand a year, the house in which 
we are now sitting and seven others in the best 
neighbourhoods in town. I do not believe I am 
repulsive to the eye, and as for my character, you 
have seen me under trial. I think you simply the 
most original of created beings ; I need not tell you 
what you know very well, that you are ravishingly 
pretty ; and I have nothing more to add, except 
that, foolish as it may appear, I am already head 
over heels in love with you.' 
114 



THE SPIRITED OLD LADY 

'Sir,' said I, 'I am prepared to be misjudged; 
but while I continue to accept your hospitality, that 
fact alone should be enough to protect me from 
insult.' 

'Pardon me,' said he: 'I offer you marriage.' 
And leaning back in his chair he replaced his cigar 
between his lips. 

I own I was confounded by an offer, not only so 
unprepared, but couched in terms so singular. But 
he knew very well how to obtain his purposes, for 
he was not only handsome in person, but his very 
coolness had a charm ; and to make a long story 
short, a fortnight later I became the wife of the 
Honourable Henry Luxmore. 

For nearly twenty years I now led a life of almost 
perfect quiet. My Henry had his weaknesses ; I 
was twice driven to flee from his roof, but not for 
long ; for though he was easily over-excited, his 
nature was placable below the surface, and, with all 
his faults, I loved him tenderly. At last he was 
taken from me ; and such is the power of self- 
deception, and so strange are the whims of the 
dying, he actually assured me, with his latest breath, 
that he forgave the violence of my temper ! 

There was but one pledge of the marriage, my 
daughter Clara. She had, indeed, inherited a shadow 
of her father's failing ; but in all things else, unless 
my partial eyes deceived me, she derived her qualities 
from me, and might be called my moral image. On 
my side, whatever else I may have done amiss, as 
a mother I was above reproach. Here, then, was 

ii5 



THE DYNAMITER 

surely every promise for the future; here, at last, 
was a relation in which I might hope to taste repose. 
But it was not to be. You will hardly credit me 
when I inform you that she ran away from home ; 
yet such was the case. Some whim about oppressed 
nationalities — Ireland, Poland, and the like — has 
turned her brain ; and if you should anywhere en- 
counter a young lady (I must say of remarkable 
attractions) answering to the name of Luxmore, 
Lake, or Fonblanque (for I am told she uses these 
indifferently, as well as many others), tell her, from 
me, that I forgive her cruelty, and though I will 
never more behold her face, I am at any time pre- 
pared to make her a liberal allowance. 

On the death of Mr. Luxmore I sought oblivion 
in the details of business. I believe I have men- 
tioned that seven mansions, besides this, formed part 
of Mr. Luxmore's property: I have found them 
seven white elephants. The greed of tenants, the 
dishonesty of solicitors, and the incapacity that sits 
upon the bench, have combined together to make 
these houses the burthen of my life. I had no 
sooner, indeed, begun to look into these matters 
for myself, than I discovered so many injustices and 
met with so much studied incivility, that I was 
plunged into a long series of lawsuits, some of 
which are pending to this day. You must have 
heard my name already ; I am the Mrs. Luxmore of 
the Law Reports : a strange destiny, indeed, for one 
born with an almost cowardly desire for peace ! 
But I am of the stamp of those who, when they 
116 



THE SPIRITED OLD LADY 

have once begun a task, will rather die than leave 
their duty unfulfilled. I have met with every 
obstacle : insolence and ingratitude from my own 
lawyers ; in my adversaries, that fault of obstinacy 
which is to me perhaps the most distasteful in the 
calendar; from the bench, civility indeed — always, 
I must allow, civility — but never a spark of indepen- 
dence, never that knowledge of the law and love 
of justice which we have a right to look for in a 
judge, the most august of human officers. And 
still, against all these odds, I have undissuadably 
persevered. 

It was after the loss of one of my innumerable 
cases (a subject on which I will not dwell) that it 
occurred to me to make a melancholy pilgrimage to 
my various houses. Four were at that time tenant- 
less and closed, like pillars of salt, commemorating 
the corruption of the age and the decline of private 
virtue. Three were occupied by persons who had 
wearied me by every conceivable unjust demand 
and legal subterfuge — persons whom, at that very 
hour, I was moving heaven and earth to turn into 
the street. This was perhaps the sadder spectacle 
of the two ; and my heart grew hot within me to 
behold them occupying, in my very teeth, and with 
an insolent ostentation, these handsome structures 
which were as much mine as the flesh upon my 
body. 

One more house remained for me to visit, that in 
which we now are. I had let it (for at that period 
I lodged in a hotel, the life that I have always 

117 



THE DYNAMITER 

preferred) to a Colonel Geraldine, a gentleman 
attached to Prince Florizel of Bohemia, whom you 
must certainly have heard of; and I had supposed, 
from the character and position of my tenant, that 
here, at least, I was safe against annoyance. What 
was my surprise to find this house also shuttered 
and apparently deserted ! I will not deny that I 
was offended ; I conceived that a house, like a yacht, 
was better to be kept in commission ; and I pro- 
mised myself to bring the matter before my solicitor 
the following morning. Meanwhile the sight re- 
called my fancy naturally to the past ; and, yielding 
to the tender influence of sentiment, I sat down 
opposite the door upon the garden parapet. It was 
August, and a sultry afternoon, but that spot is 
sheltered, as you may observe by daylight, under 
the branches of a spreading chestnut ; the square, 
too, was deserted ; there was a sound of distant 
music in the air; and all combined to plunge me 
into that most agreeable of states, which is neither 
happiness nor sorrow, but shares the poignancy of 
both. 

From this I was recalled by the arrival of a large 
van, very handsomely appointed, drawn by valuable 
horses, mounted by several men of an appearance 
more than decent, and bearing on its panels, instead 
of a trader's name, a coat-of-arms too modest to be 
deciphered from where I sat. It drew up before my 
house, the door of which was immediately opened 
by one of the men. His companions — I counted 
seven of them in all — proceeded, with disciplined 
118 



THE SPIRITED OLD LADY 

activity, to take from the van and carry into the 
house a variety of hampers, bottle-baskets, and boxes, 
such as are designed for plate and n apery. The 
windows of the dining-room were thrown widely 
open, as though to air it ; and I saw some of those 
within laying the table for a meal. Plainly, I con- 
cluded, my tenant was about to return ; and while 
still determined to submit to no aggression on my 
rights, I was gratified by the number and discipline 
of his attendants, and the quiet profusion that 
appeared to reign in his establishment. I was still 
so thinking when, to my extreme surprise, the win- 
dows and shutters of the dining-room were once 
more closed ; the men began to reappear from the 
interior and resume their stations on the van ; the 
last closed the door behind his exit ; the van drove 
away ; and the house was once more left to itself, 
looking blindly on the square with shuttered windows, 
as though the whole affair had been a vision. 

It was no vision, however ; for, as I rose to my 
feet and thus brought my eyes a little nearer to the 
level of the fanlight over the door, I saw that, though 
the day had still some hours to run, the hall lamps 
had been lighted and left burning. Plainly, then, 
guests were expected, and were not expected before 
night. For whom, I asked myself with indignation, 
were such secret preparations likely to be made ? 
Although no prude, I am a woman of decided views 
upon morality ; if my house, to which my husband 
had brought me, was to serve in the character of a 
petite maison, I saw myself forced, however unwill- 

119 



THE DYNAMITER 

ingly, into a new course of litigation ; and, deter- 
mined to return and know the worst, I hastened to 
my hotel for dinner. 

I was at my post by ten. The night was clear 
and quiet ; the moon rode very high and put the 
lamps to shame ; and the shadow below the chest- 
nut was black as ink. Here, then, I ensconced my- 
self on the low parapet, with my back against the 
railings, face to face with the moonlit front of my 
old home, and ruminating gently on the past. Time 
fled ; eleven struck on all the city clocks ; and 
presently after I was aware of the approach of a 
gentleman of stately and agreeable demeanour. He 
was smoking as he walked ; his light paletot, which 
was open, did not conceal his evening clothes ; and 
he bore himself with a serious grace that immediately 
awakened my attention. Before the door of this 
house he took a pass-key from his pocket, quietly 
admitted himself, and disappeared into the lamp-lit 
hall. 

He was scarcely gone when I observed another 
and a much younger man approaching hastily from 
the opposite side of the square. Considering the 
season of the year and the genial mildness of the 
night, he was somewhat closely muffled up ; and as 
he came, for all his hurry, he kept looking nervously 
behind him. Arrived before my door, he halted and 
set one foot upon the step, as though about to enter ; 
then, with a sudden change, he turned and began to 
hurry away ; halted a second time, as if in painful 
indecision ; and lastly, with a violent gesture, wheeled 
120 



THE SPIRITED OLD LADY 

about, returned straight to the door, and rapped upon 
the knocker. He was almost immediately admitted 
by the first arrival. 

My curiosity was now broad awake. I made my- 
self as small as I could in the very densest of the 
shadow, and waited for the sequel. Nor had I long 
to wait. From the same side of the square a second 
young man made his appearance, walking slowly and 
softly, and like the first, muffled to the nose. Before 
the house he paused ; looked all about him with a 
swift and comprehensive glance ; and seeing the 
square lie empty in the moon and lamp-light, leaned 
far across the area railings and appeared to listen 
to what was passing in the house. From the dining- 
room there came the report of a champagne cork, 
and following upon that, the sound of rich and manly 
laughter. The listener took heart of grace, produced 
a key, unlocked the area gate, shut it noiselessly 
behind him, and descended the stair. Just when 
his head had reached the level of the pavement, he 
turned half round and once more raked the square 
with a suspicious eyeshot. The mufflings had fallen 
lower round his neck ; the moon shone full upon 
him ; and I was startled to observe the pallor and 
passionate agitation of his face. 

I could remain no longer passive. Persuaded that 
something deadly was afoot, I crossed the roadway 
and drew near the area railings. There was no one 
below ; the man must therefore have entered the 
house, with what purpose I dreaded to imagine. I 
have at no part of my career lacked courage ; and 

121 



THE DYNAMITER 

now, finding the area gate was merely laid-to, I 
pushed it gently open and descended the stairs. 
The kitchen door of the house, like the area gate, 
was closed but not fastened. It flashed upon me 
that the criminal was thus preparing his escape ; and 
the thought, as it confirmed the worst of my sus- 
picions, lent me new resolve. I entered the house ; 
and being now quite reckless of my life, I shut and 
locked the door. 

From the dining-room above I could hear the 
pleasant tones of a voice in easy conversation. On 
the ground floor all was not only profoundly silent, 
but the darkness seemed to weigh upon my eyes. 
Here, then, I stood for some time, having thrust 
myself uncalled into the utmost peril, and being 
destitute of any power to help or interfere. Nor 
will I deny that fear had begun already to assail me, 
when I became aware, all at once and as though by 
some immediate but silent incandescence, of a certain 
glimmering of light upon the passage floor. Towards 
this I groped my way with infinite precaution ; and 
having come at length as far as the angle of the 
corridor, beheld the door of the butler's pantry 
standing just ajar and a narrow thread of brightness 
falling from the chink. Creeping still closer, I put 
my eye to the aperture. The man sat within upon 
a chair, listening, I could see, with the most rapt 
attention. On a table before him he had laid a 
watch, a pair of steel revolvers, and a bull's-eye 
lantern. For one second many contradictory theories 
and projects whirled together in my head ; the next, 
122 



THE SPIRITED OLD LADY 

I had slammed the door and turned the key upon 
the malefactor. Surprised at my own decision, I 
stood and panted, leaning on the wall. From within 
the pantry not a sound was to be heard ; the man, 
whatever he was, had accepted his fate without a 
struggle, and now, as I hugged myself to fancy, sat 
frozen with terror and looking for the worst to 
follow. I promised myself that he should not be 
disappointed ; and the better to complete my task, I 
turned to ascend the stairs. 

The situation, as I groped my way to the first 
floor, appealed to me suddenly by my strong sense 
of humour. Here was I, the owner of the house, 
burglariously present in its walls ; and there, in the 
dining-room, were two gentlemen, unknown to me, 
seated complacently at supper, and only saved by 
my promptitude from some surprising or deadly 
interruption. It were strange if I could not manage 
to extract the matter of amusement from so unusual 
a situation. 

Behind this dining-room there is a small apart- 
ment intended for a library. It was to this that I 
cautiously groped my way ; and you will see how 
fortune had exactly served me. The weather, I 
have said, was sultry : in order to ventilate the 
dining-room and yet preserve the uninhabited appear- 
ance of the mansion to the front, the window of the 
library had been widely opened and the door of com- 
munication between the two apartments left ajar. 
To this interval I now applied my eye. 

Wax tapers, set in silver candlesticks, shed their 

123 



THE DYNAMITER 

chastened brightness on the damask of the table- 
cloth and the remains of a cold collation of the rarest 
delicacy. The two gentlemen had finished supper, 
and were now trifling with cigars and maraschino ; 
while in a silver spirit-lamp, coffee of the most cap- 
tivating fragrance was preparing in the fashion of the 
East. The elder of the two, he who had first arrived, 
was placed directly facing me ; the other was set on 
his left hand. Both, like the man in the butler's 
pantry, seemed to be intently listening ; and on 
the face of the second I thought I could perceive 
the marks of fear. Oddly enough, however, when 
they came to speak, the parts were found to be 
reversed. 

' I assure you,' said the elder gentleman, ' I not 
only heard the slamming of a door, but the sound of 
very guarded footsteps.' 

1 Your highness was certainly deceived,' replied the 
other. ' I am endowed with the acutest hearing, and 
I can swear that not a mouse has rustled.' Yet the 
pallor and contraction of his features were in total 
discord with the tenor of his words. 

His highness (whom, of course, I readily divined 
to be Prince Florizel) looked at his companion for 
the least fraction of a second ; and though nothing 
shook the easy quiet of his attitude, I could see that 
he was far from being duped. ' It is well,' said he : 
' let us dismiss the topic. And now, sir, that I have 
very freely explained the sentiments by which I am 
directed, let me ask you, according to your promise, 
to imitate my frankness.' 
124 



THE SPIRITED OLD LADY 

■ I have heard you,' replied the other, ' with great 
interest.' 

' With singular patience,' said the prince politely. 

'Ay, your highness, and with unlooked-for sym- 
pathy,' returned the young man. ' I know not how 
to tell the change that has befallen me. You have, 
I must suppose, a charm, to which even your enemies 
are subject.' He looked at the clock on the mantel- 
piece and visibly blanched. ' So late ! ' he cried. 
'Your highness — God knows I am now speaking 
from the heart — before it be too late, leave this 
house ! ' 

The prince glanced once more at his companion, 
and then very deliberately shook the ash from his 
cigar. ' That is a strange remark,' said he ; ' and a 
propos de bottes, I never continue a cigar when once 
the ash is fallen ; the spell breaks, the soul of the 
flavour flies away, and there remains but the dead 
body of tobacco ; and I make it a rule to throw away 
that husk and choose another.' He suited the action 
to the words. 

' Do not trifle with my appeal,' resumed the young 
man, in tones that trembled with emotion. 'It is 
made at the price of my honour and to the peril of 
my life. Go — go now ! lose not a moment ; and if 
you have any kindness for a young man, miserably 
deceived indeed, but not devoid of better sentiments, 
look not behind you as you leave.' 

' Sir,' said the prince, ' I am here upon your 
honour ; I assure you upon mine that I shall con- 
tinue to rely upon that safeguard. The coffee is 

125 



THE DYNAMITER 

ready ; I must again trouble you, I fear.' And with 
a courteous movement of the hand, he seemed to 
invite his companion to pour out the coffee. 

The unhappy young man rose from his seat. ' I 
appeal to you,' he cried, ' by every holy sentiment, 
in mercy to me, if not in pity to yourself, begone 
before it is too late.' 

' Sir,' replied the prince, ' I am not readily acces- 
sible to fear ; and if there is one defect to which I 
must plead guilty, it is that of a curious disposition. 
You go the wrong way about to make me leave this 
house, in which I play the part of your entertainer ; 
and, suffer me to add, young man, if any peril 
threaten us, it was of your contriving, not of mine.' 

'Alas, you do not know to what you condemn 
me,' cried the other. ' But I at least will have no 
hand in it.' With these words he carried his hand 
to his pocket, hastily swallowed the contents of a 
phial, and, with the very act, reeled back and fell 
across his chair upon the floor. The prince left his 
place and came and stood above him, where he lay 
convulsed upon the carpet. ' Poor moth ! ' I heard 
his highness murmur. ' Alas, poor moth ! must we 
again inquire which is the more fatal — weakness 
or wickedness ? And can a sympathy with ideas, 
surely not ignoble in themselves, conduct a man to 
this dishonourable death?' 

By this time I had pushed the door open and 

walked into the room. ' Your highness,' said I, ' this 

is no time for moralising ; with a little promptness 

we may save this creature's life ; and as for the other, 

126 



THE SPIRITED OLD LADY 

he need cause you no concern, for I have him safely 
under lock and key.' 

The prince had turned about upon my entrance, 
and regarded me certainly with no alarm, but with a 
profundity of wonder which almost robbed me of my 
self-possession. ' My dear madam,' he cried at last, 
' and who the devil are you ? ' 

I was already on the floor beside the dying man. 
I had, of course, no idea with what drug he had 
attempted his life, and I was forced to try him with 
a variety of antidotes. Here were both oil and vine- 
gar, for the prince had done the young man the 
honour of compounding for him one of his celebrated 
salads ; and of each of these I administered from a 
quarter to half a pint, with no apparent efficacy. I 
next plied him with the hot coffee, of which there 
may have been near upon a quart. 

* Have you no milk ? ' I inquired. 

' I fear, madam, that milk has been omitted,' re- 
turned the prince. 

' Salt, then,' said I ; ' salt is a revulsive. Pass the 
salt.' 

* And possibly the mustard ? ' asked his highness, 
as he offered me the contents of the various salt- 
cellars poured together on a plate. 

' Ah,' cried I, ' the thought is excellent ! Mix me 
about half a pint of mustard, drinkably dilute.' 

Whether it was the salt or the mustard, or the 
mere combination of so many subversive agents, as 
soon as the last had been poured over his throat, the 
young sufferer obtained relief. 

127 



THE DYNAMITER 

• There ! ' I exclaimed, with natural triumph, ' I 
have saved a life ! ' 

'And yet, madam,' returned the prince, 'your 
mercy may be cruelty disguised. Where the honour 
is lost, it is, at least, superfluous to prolong the life.' 

' If you had led a life as changeable as mine, your 
highness,' I replied, ' you would hold a very different 
opinion. For my part, and after whatever extremity 
of misfortune or disgrace, I should still count to- 
morrow worth a trial.' 

' You speak as a lady, madam,' said the prince ; 
'and for such you speak the truth. But to men 
there is permitted such a field of licence, and the 
good behaviour asked of them is at once so easy and 
so little, that to fail in that is to fall beyond the 
reach of pardon. But will you suffer me to repeat a 
question, put to you at first, I am afraid, with some 
defect of courtesy ; and to ask you once more, who 
you are and how I have the honour of your com- 
pany ? ' 

' I am the proprietor of the house in which we 
stand,' said I. 

' And still I am at fault,' returned the prince. 

But at that moment the timepiece on the mantel- 
shelf began to strike the hour of twelve ; and the 
young man, raising himself upon one elbow, with an 
expression of despair and horror that I have never 
seen excelled, cried lamentably : ' Midnight ? oh, just 
God ! ' We stood frozen to our places, while the 
tingling hammer of the timepiece measured the re- 
maining strokes ; nor had we yet stirred, so tragic 
128 



THE SPIRITED OLD LADY 

had been the tones of the young man, when the 
various bells of London began in turn to declare the 
hour. The timepiece was inaudible beyond the walls 
of the chamber where we stood ; but the second pul- 
sation of Big Ben had scarcely throbbed into the 
night, before a sharp detonation rang about the 
house. The prince sprang for the door by which I 
had entered ; but quick as he was, I yet contrived to 
intercept him. 

' Are you armed ? ' I cried. 

'No, madam,' replied he. ' You remind me appo- 
sitely ; I will take the poker.' 

'The man below,' said I, 'has two revolvers. 
Would you confront him at such odds ? ' 

He paused, as though staggered in his purpose. 
' And yet, madam,' said he, ' we cannot continue to 
remain in ignorance of what has passed.' 

' No ! ' cried I. ' And who proposes it ? I am as 
curious as yourself, but let us rather send for the 
police; or, if your highness dreads a scandal, for 
some of your own servants.' 

' Nay, madam,' he replied, smiling, ' for so brave a 
lady, you surprise me. Would you have me, then, 
send others where I fear to go myself ? ' 

'You are perfectly right,' said I, 'and I was 
entirely wrong. Go, in God's name, and I will 
hold the candle ! ' 

Together, therefore, we descended to the lower 
story, he carrying the poker, I the light; and to- 
gether we approached and opened the door of the 
butler's pantry. In some sort, I believe, I was pre- 
7—1 129 



THE DYNAMITER 

pared for the spectacle that met our eyes ; I was 
prepared, that is, to find the villain dead, but the 
rude details of such a violent suicide I was unable to 
endure. The prince, unshaken by horror as he had 
remained unshaken by alarm, assisted me with the 
most respectful gallantry to regain the dining-room. 

There we found our patient, still, indeed, deadly 
pale, but vastly recovered and already seated on a 
chair. He held out both his hands with a most 
pitiful gesture of interrogation. 

' He is dead,' said the prince. 

' Alas ! ' cried the young man, ' and it should be I ! 
What do I do, thus lingering on the stage I have 
disgraced, while he, my sure comrade, blameworthy 
indeed for much, but yet the soul of fidelity, has 
judged and slain himself for an involuntary fault? 
Ah, sir,' said' he, ' and you too, madam, without 
whose cruel help I should be now beyond the reach 
of my accusing conscience, you behold in me the 
victim equally of my own faults and virtues. I was 
born a hater of injustice ; from my most tender years 
my blood boiled against Heaven when I beheld the 
sick, and against men when I witnessed the sorrows 
of the poor ; the pauper's crust stuck in my throat 
when I sat down to eat my dainties, and the cripple 
child has set me weeping. What was there in that 
but what was noble ? and yet observe to what a fall 
these thoughts have led me ! Year after year this 
passion for the lost besieged me closer. What hope 
was there in kings ? what hope in these well-feathered 
classes that now roll in money ? I had observed the 
130 



THE SPIRITED OLD LADY 

course of history ; I knew the burgess, our ruler of 
to-day, to be base, cowardly, and dull ; I saw him, 
in every age, combine to pull down that which was 
immediately above and to prey upon those that were 
below ; his dulness, I knew, would ultimately bring 
about his ruin ; I knew his days were numbered, and 
yet how was I to wait ? how was I to let the poor 
child shiver in the rain ? The better days, indeed, 
were coming, but the child would die before that 
Alas, your highness, in surely no ungenerous im- 
patience I enrolled myself among the enemies of this 
unjust and doomed society ; in surely no unnatural 
desire to keep the fires of my philanthropy alight, I 
bound myself by an irrevocable oath. 

' That oath is all my history. To give freedom to 
posterity, I had forsworn my own. I must attend 
upon every signal ; and soon my father complained 
of my irregular hours and turned me from his house. 
I was engaged in betrothal to an honest girl ; from 
her also I had to part, for she was too shrewd to 
credit my inventions and too innocent to be intrusted 
with the truth. Behold me, then, alone with con- 
spirators ! Alas ! as the years went on, my illusions 
left me. Surrounded as I was by the fervent dis- 
ciples and apologists of revolution, I beheld them 
daily advance in confidence and desperation ; I 
beheld myself, upon the other hand, and with an 
almost equal regularity, decline in faith. I had 
sacrificed all to further that cause in which I still 
believed ; and daily I began to grow in doubts if we 
were advancing it indeed. Horrible was the society 

131 



THE DYNAMITER 

with which we warred, but our own means were not 
less horrible. 

' I will not dwell upon my sufferings ; I will not 
pause to tell you how, when I beheld young men 
still free and happy, married, fathers of children, 
cheerfully toiling at their work, my heart reproached 
me with the greatness and vanity of my unhappy 
sacrifice. I will not describe to you how, worn by 
poverty, poor lodging, scanty food, and an unquiet 
conscience, my health began to fail, and in the long 
nights, as I wandered bedless in the rainy streets, the 
most cruel sufferings of the body were added to the 
tortures of my mind. These things are not personal 
to me ; they are common to all unfortunates in my 
position. An oath, so light a thing to swear, so 
grave a thing to break : an oath, taken in the heat of 
youth, repented with what sobbings of the heart, but 
yet in vain repented, as the years go on : an oath, 
that was once the very utterance of the truth of 
God, but that falls to be the symbol of a meaning- 
less and empty slavery ; such is the yoke that many 
young men joyfully assume, and under whose dead 
weight they live to suffer worse than death. 

' It is not that I was patient. I have begged to 
be released ; but I knew too much, and I was still 
refused. I have fled ; ay, and for the time success- 
fully. I reached Paris. I found a lodging in the 
Rue St. Jacques, almost opposite the Val de Grace. 
My room was mean and bare, but the sun looked 
into it towards evening ; it commanded a peep of a 
green garden ; a bird hung by a neighbour's window 
132 



THE SPIRITED OLD LADY 

and made the morning beautiful ; and I, who was 
sick, might lie in bed and rest myself : I, who was in 
full revolt against the principles that I had served, 
was now no longer at the beck of the council, and 
was no longer charged with shameful and revolting 
tasks. Oh ! what an interval of peace was that ! I 
still dream, at times, that I can hear the note of my 
neighbour's bird. 

* My money was running out, and it became neces- 
sary that I should find employment. Scarcely had 
I been three days upon the search, ere I thought 
that I was being followed. I made certain of the 
features of the man, which were quite strange to me, 
and turned into a small cafe, where I whiled away 
an hour, pretending to read the papers, but inwardly 
convulsed with terror, When I came forth again 
into the street, it was quite empty, and I breathed 
again ; but alas, I had not turned three corners, 
when I once more observed the human hound pur- 
suing me. Not an hour was to be lost ; timely sub- 
mission might yet preserve a life which otherwise 
was forfeit and dishonoured ; and I fled, with what 
speed you may conceive, to the Paris agency of the 
society I served. 

' My submission was accepted. I took up once 
more the hated burthen of that life ; once more I 
was at the call of men whom I despised and hated, 
while yet I envied and admired them. They at least 
were whole-hearted in the things they purposed ; but 
I, who had once been such as they, had fallen from 
the brightness of my faith, and now laboured, like a 

133 



THE DYNAMITER 

hireling, for the wages of a loathed existence. Ay, 
sir, to that I was condemned ; I obeyed to continue 
to live, and lived but to obey. 

' The last charge that was laid upon me was the 
one which has to-night so tragically ended. Boldly 
telling who I was, I was to request from your high- 
ness, on behalf of my society, a private audience, 
where it was designed to murder you. If one thing 
remained to me of my old convictions, it was the 
hate of kings ; and when this task was offered me, I 
took it gladly. Alas, sir, you triumphed. As we 
supped, you gained upon my heart. Your character, 
your talents, your designs for our unhappy country, 
all had been misrepresented. I began to forget you 
were a prince ; I began, all too feelingly, to remem- 
ber that you were a man. As I saw the hour 
approach, I suffered agonies untold ; and when, at 
last, we heard the slamming of the door which 
announced in my unwilling ears the arrival of the 
partner of my crime, you will bear me out with what 
instancy I besought you to depart. You would not, 
alas ! and what could I ? Kill you, I could not ; my 
heart revolted, my hand turned back from such a 
deed. Yet it was impossible that I should suffer 
you to stay ; for when the hour struck and my com- 
panion came, true to his appointment, and he, at 
least, true to our design, I could neither suffer you 
to be killed nor yet him to be arrested. From such 
a tragic passage, death, and death alone, could save 
me ; and it is no fault of mine if I continue to 
exist. ' 

134 



THE SPIRITED OLD LADY 

' But you, madam,' continued the young man, 
addressing himself more directly to myself, ' were 
doubtless born to save the prince and to confound 
our purposes. My life you have prolonged ; and 
by turning the key on my companion, you have 
made me the author of his death. He heard the 
hour strike ; he was impotent to help ; and thinking 
himself forfeit to honour, thinking that I should fall 
alone upon his highness and perish for lack of his 
support, he has turned his pistol on himself.' 

' You are right,' said Prince Florizel : ' it was in 
no ungenerous spirit that you brought these burthens 
on yourself ; and when I see you so nobly to blame, 
so tragically punished, I stand like one reproved. 
For is it not strange, madam, that you and I, by 
practising accepted and inconsiderable virtues, and 
commonplace but still unpardonable faults, should 
stand here, in the sight of God, with what we call 
clean hands and quiet consciences ; while this poor 
youth, for an error that I could almost envy him, 
should be sunk beyond the reach of hope ? 

' Sir,' resumed the prince, turning to the young 
man, ' I cannot help you ; my help would but un- 
chain the thunderbolt that overhangs you ; and I 
can but leave you free.' 

' And, sir,' said I, ' as this house belongs to me, I 
will ask you to have the kindness to remove the 
body. You and your conspirators, it appears to me, 
can hardly in civility do less.' 

'It shall be done,' said the young man, with a 
dismal accent. 

135 



THE DYNAMITER 

' And you, dear madam,' said the prince, ' you, to 
whom I owe my life, how can I serve you ? ' 

' Your highness,' I said, * to be very plain, this is 
my favourite house, being not only a valuable pro- 
perty, but endeared to me by various associations. 
I have endless troubles with tenants of the ordinary 
class ; and at first applauded my good fortune when 
I found one of the station of your Master of the 
Horse. I now begin to think otherwise ; dangers 
set a siege about great personages ; and I do not 
wish my tenement to share these risks. Procure me 
the resiliation of the lease, and I shall feel myself 
your debtor.' 

' I must tell you, madam,' replied his highness, 
* that Colonel Geraldine is but a cloak for myself ; 
and I should be sorry indeed to think myself so un- 
acceptable a tenant.' 

' Your highness,' said I, ' I have conceived a sincere 
admiration for your character ; but on the subject of 
house property I cannot allow the interference of 
my feelings. I will, however, to prove to you that 
there is nothing personal in my request, here solemnly 
engage my word that I will never put another tenant 
in this house.' 

' Madam,' said Florizel, ' you plead your cause too 
charmingly to be refused.' 

Thereupon we all three withdrew. The young 
man, still reeling in his walk, departed by himself to 
seek the assistance of his fellow-conspirators ; and 
the prince, with the most attentive gallantry, lent 
me his escort to the door of my hotel. The next 
136 



THE SPIRITED OLD LADY 

day the lease was cancelled ; nor from that hour to 
this, though sometimes regretting my engagement, 
have I suffered a tenant in this house. 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION {continued) 

As soon as the old lady had finished her relation, 
Somerset made haste to offer her his compliments. 

6 Madam,' said he, ' your story is not only enter- 
taining but instructive ; and you have told it with 
infinite vivacity. I was much affected towards the 
end, as I held at one time very liberal opinions, and 
should certainly have joined a secret society if I had 
been able to find one. But the whole tale came 
home to me ; and I was the better able to feel for 
you in your various perplexities, as I am myself of 
somewhat hasty temper.' 

' I do not understand you,' said Mrs. Luxmore, 
with some marks of irritation. ' You must have 
strangely misinterpreted what I have told you. You 
fill me with surprise.' 

Somerset, alarmed by the old lady's change of tone 
and manner, hurried to recant. 

' Dear Mrs. Luxmore,' said he, ' you certainly mis- 
construe my remark. As a man of somewhat fiery 
humour, my conscience repeatedly pricked me when 
I heard what you had suffered at the hands of 
persons similarly constituted.' 

' Oh, very well indeed,' replied the old lady ; ' and 

137 



THE DYNAMITER 

a very proper spirit. I regret that I have met with 
it so rarely.' 

' But in all this,' resumed the young man, ' I per- 
ceive nothing that concerns myself.' 

' I am about to come to that,' she returned. ' And 
you have already before you, in the pledge I gave 
Prince Florizel, one of the elements of the affair. I 
am a woman of the nomadic sort, and when I have 
no case before the courts I make it a habit to visit 
continental spas : not that I have ever been ill ; but 
then I am no longer young, and I am always happy 
in a crowd. Well, to come more shortly to the 
point, I am now on the wing for Evian ; this in- 
cubus of a house, which I must leave behind and 
dare not let, hangs heavily upon my hands ; and I 
propose to rid myself of that concern, and do you a 
very good t!urn into the bargain, by lending you 
the mansion, with all its fittings, as it stands. The 
idea was sudden ; it appealed to me as humorous ; 
and I am sure it will cause my relatives, if they 
should ever hear of it, the keenest possible chagrin. 
Here, then, is the key ; and when you return at 
two to-morrow afternoon, you will find neither me 
nor my cats to disturb you in your new posses- 
sion.' 

So saying, the old lady arose, as if to dismiss her 
visitor ; but Somerset, looking somewhat blankly on 
the key, began to protest. 

'Dear Mrs. Luxmore,' said he, 'this is a most 
unusual proposal. You know nothing of me, beyond 
the fact that I displayed both impudence and timidity. 
133 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

I may be the worst kind of scoundrel ; I may sell 
your furniture ' 

' You may blow up the house with gunpowder, for 
what I care ! ' cried Mrs. Luxmore. ' It is in vain 
to reason. Such is the force of my character that, 
when I have one idea clearly in my head, I do 
not care two straws for any side consideration. It 
amuses me to do it, and let that suffice. On your 
side, you may do what you please — let apartments, 
or keep a private hotel ; on mine, I promise you a 
full month's warning before I return, and I never 
fail religiously to keep my promises.' 

The young man was about to renew his protest, 
when he observed a sudden and significant change 
in the old lady's countenance. 

' If I thought you capable of disrespect ! ' she cried. 

' Madam,' said Somerset, with the extreme fervour 
of asseveration, ' madam, I accept. I beg you to 
understand that I accept with joy and gratitude.' 

' Ah, well,' returned Mrs. Luxmore, ' if I am mis- 
taken, let it pass. And now, since all is comfortably 
settled, I wish you a good-night.' 

Thereupon, as if to leave him no room for repent- 
ance, she hurried Somerset out of the front door, 
and left him standing, key in hand, upon the pave- 
ment. 

The next day, about the hour appointed, the 
young man found his way to the square, which I 
will here call Golden Square, though that was not its 
name. What to expect, he knew not ; for a man 
may live in dreams, and yet be unprepared for their 

139 



THE DYNAMITER 

realisation. It was already with a certain pang of 
surprise that he beheld the mansion, standing in the 
eye of day, a solid among solids. The key, upon 
trial, readily opened the front door ; he entered that 
great house, a privileged burglar ; and, escorted by 
the echoes of desertion, rapidly reviewed the empty 
chambers. Cats, servant, old lady, the very marks 
of habitation, like writing on a slate, had been in 
these few hours obliterated. He wandered from 
floor to floor, and found the house of great extent ; 
the kitchen offices commodious and well appointed ; 
the rooms many and large ; and the drawing-room, 
in particular, an apartment of princely size and taste- 
ful decoration. Although the day without was warm, 
genial, and sunny, with a ruffling wind from the 
quarter of Torquay, a chill, as it were, of suspended 
animation, inhabited the house. Dust and shadows 
met the eye ; and but for the ominous procession 
of the echoes, and the rumour of the wind among 
the garden trees, the ear of the young man was 
stretched in vain. 

Behind the dining-room, that pleasant library, 
referred to by the old lady in her tale, looked upon 
the flat roofs and netted cupolas of the kitchen 
quarters ; and on a second visit, this room appeared 
to greet him with a smiling countenance. He might 
as well, he thought, avoid the expense of lodging : 
the library fitted with an iron bedstead which he had 
remarked, in one of the upper chambers, would serve 
his purpose for the night ; while in the dining-room, 
which was large, airy, and lightsome, looking on the 
140 






THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

square and garden, he might very agreeably pass his 
days, cook his meals, and study to bring himself to 
some proficiency in that art of painting which he had 
recently determined to adopt. It did not take him 
long to make the change : he had soon returned to 
the mansion with his modest kit ; and the cabman 
who brought him was readily induced, by the young 
man's pleasant manner and a small gratuity, to assist 
him in the installation of the iron bed. By six in 
the evening, when Somerset went forth to dine, he 
was able to look back upon the mansion with a sense 
of pride and property. Four-square it stood, of an 
imposing frontage, and flanked on either side by 
family hatchments. His eye, from where he stood 
whistling in the key, with his back to the garden 
railings, reposed on every feature of reality ; and yet 
his own possession seemed as flimsy as a dream. 

In the course of a few days, the genteel inhabit- 
ants of the square began to remark the customs of 
their neighbour. The sight of a young gentleman 
discussing a clay pipe, about four o'clock of the 
afternoon, in the drawing-room balcony of so discreet 
a mansion ; and perhaps still more, his periodical 
excursion to a decent tavern in the neighbourhood, 
and his unabashed return, nursing the full tankard : 
had presently raised to a high pitch the interest and 
indignation of the liveried servants of the square. 
The disfavour of some of these gentlemen at first 
proceeded to the length of insult; but Somerset 
knew how to be affable with any class of men ; 
and a few rude words merrily accepted, and a few 

141 



THE DYNAMITER 

glasses amicably shared, gained for him the right of 
toleration. 

The young man had embraced the art of Raphael, 
partly from a notion of its ease, partly from an 
inborn distrust of offices. He scorned to bear the 
yoke of any regular schooling ; and proceeded to 
turn one half of the dining-room into a studio for 
the reproduction of still life. There he amassed a 
variety of objects, indiscriminately chosen from the 
kitchen, the drawing-room, and the back garden ; 
and there spent his days in smiling assiduity. Mean- 
time, the great bulk of empty building overhead lay, 
like a load, upon his imagination. To hold so great 
a stake and to do nothing, argued some defect of 
energy ; and he at length determined to act upon 
the hint given by Mrs. Luxmore herself, and to 
stick, with wafers, in the window of the dining-room, 
a small handbill announcing furnished lodgings. At 
half-past six of a fine July morning, he affixed the 
bill, and went forth into the square to study the 
result. It seemed, to his eye, promising and un- 
pretentious ; and he returned to the drawing-room 
balcony to consider, over a studious pipe, the knotty 
problem of how much he was to charge. 

Thereupon he somewhat relaxed in his devotion 
to the art of painting. Indeed, from that time forth, 
he would spend the best part of the day in the front 
balcony, like the attentive angler poring on his float ; 
and the better to support the tedium, he would 
frequently console himself with his clay pipe. On 
several occasions passers-by appeared to be arrested 
142 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

by the ticket, and on several others ladies and gen- 
tlemen drove to the very doorstep by the carriageful ; 
but it appeared there was something repulsive in the 
appearance of the house ; for, with one accord, they 
would cast but one look upward, and hastily resume 
their onward progress, or direct the driver to proceed. 
Somerset had thus the mortification of actually meet- 
ing the eye of a large number of lodging-seekers ; 
and though he hastened to withdraw his pipe, and to 
compose his features to an air of invitation, he was 
never rewarded by so much as an inquiry. 'Can 
there,' he thought, 'be anything repellent in myself?' 
But a candid examination in one of the pier-glasses 
of the drawing-room led him to dismiss the fear. 

Something, however, was amiss. His vast and 
accurate calculations on the fly-leaves of books, or 
on the backs of play-bills, appeared to have been an 
idle sacrifice of time. By these, he had variously 
computed the weekly takings of the house, from 
sums as modest as five-and-twenty shillings, up to 
the more majestic figure of a hundred pounds ; and 
yet, in despite of the very elements of arithmetic, 
here he was making literally nothing. 

This incongruity impressed him deeply and occu- 
pied his thoughtful leisure on the balcony ; and at 
last it seemed to him that he had detected the error 
of his method. ' This,' he reflected, ' is an age of 
generous display : the age of the sandwich-man, of 
Griffiths, of Pears' legendary soap, and of Eno's fruit 
salt which, by sheer brass and notoriety, and the 
most disgusting pictures I ever remember to have 

143 



THE DYNAMITER 

seen, has overlaid that comforter of my childhood, 
Lamplough's pyretic saline. Lamplough was gen- 
teel, Eno was omnipresent; Lamplough was trite, 
Eno original and abominably vulgar ; and here have 
I, a man of some pretensions to knowledge of the 
world, contented myself with half a sheet of note- 
paper, a few cold words which do not directly 
address the imagination, and the adornment (if 
adornment it may be called) of four red wafers ! 
Am I, then, to sink with Lamplough, or to soar with 
Eno ? Am I to adopt that modesty which is doubt- 
less becoming in a duke ? or to take hold of the red 
facts of life with the emphasis of the tradesman and 
the poet ? ' 

Pursuant upon these meditations, he procured 
several sheets of the very largest size of drawing- 
paper ; and laying forth his paints, proceeded to 
compose an ensign that might attract the eye and at 
the same time, in his own phrase, directly address 
the imagination of the passenger. Something taking 
in the way of colour, a good, savoury choice of 
words, and a realistic design setting forth the life a 
lodger might expect to lead within the walls of that 
palace of delight : these, he perceived, must be the 
elements of his advertisement. It was possible, 
upon the one hand, to depict the sober pleasures of 
domestic life, the evening fire, blond-headed urchins, 
and the hissing urn ; but on the other, it was pos- 
sible (and he almost felt as if it were more suited to 
his muse) to set forth the charms of an existence 
somewhat wider in its range or, boldly say, the 
144 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

paradise of the Mohammedan. So long did the 
artist waver between these two views, that, before 
he arrived at a conclusion, he had finally conceived 
and completed both designs. With the proverbially 
tender heart of the parent, he found himself unable 
to sacrifice either of these offspring of his art ; and 
decided to expose them on alternate days. ' In this 
way,' he thought, 'I shall address myself indifferently 
to all classes of the world.' 

The tossing of a penny decided the only remaining 
point ; and the more imaginative canvas received 
the suffrages of fortune and appeared first in the 
window of the mansion. It was of a high fancy, 
the legend eloquently writ, the scheme of colour 
taking and bold ; and but for the imperfection of the 
artist's drawing, it might have been taken for a 
model of its kind. As it was, however, when viewed 
from his favourite point against the garden railings, 
and with some touch of distance, it caused a plea- 
surable rising of the artist's heart. ' I have thrown 
away,' he ejaculated, ' an invaluable motive ; and this 
shall be the subject of my first Academy picture.' 

The fate of neither of these works was equal to its 
merit. A crowd would certainly, from time to time, 
collect before the area-railings ; but they came to 
jeer and not to speculate ; and those who pushed 
their inquiries further, were too plainly animated by 
the spirit of derision. The racier of the two cartoons 
displayed, indeed, no symptom of attractive merit ; 
and though it had a certain share of that success 
called scandalous, failed utterly of its effect. On the 
7— k 145 



THE DYNAMITER 

day, however, of the second appearance of the com- 
panion work, a real inquirer did actually present 
himself before the eyes of Somerset. 

This was a gentlemanly man, with some marks of 
recent merriment, and his voice under inadequate 
control. 

' I beg your pardon,' said he, • but what is the 
meaning of your extraordinary bill ? ' 

' I beg yours,' returned Somerset hotly. ' Its 
meaning is sufficiently explicit.' And being now, 
from dire experience, fearful of ridicule, he was pre- 
paring to close the door, when the gentleman thrust 
his cane into the aperture. 

' Not so fast, I beg of you,' said he. ' If you really 
let apartments, here is a possible tenant at your door ; 
and nothing would give me greater pleasure than to 
see the accommodation and to learn your terms.' 

His heart joyously beating, Somerset admitted the 
visitor, showed him over the various apartments, 
and, with some return of his persuasive eloquence, 
expounded their attractions. The gentleman was 
particularly pleased by the elegant proportions of 
the drawing-room. 

' This,' he said, ' would suit me very well. What, 
may I ask, would be your terms a week, for this floor 
and the one above it ? ' 

' I was thinking,' returned Somerset, ' of a hundred 
pounds. ' 

' Surely not,' exclaimed the gentleman. 

'Well, then,' returned Somerset, 'fifty.' 

The gentleman regarded him with an air of some 
146 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

amazement. 'You seem to be strangely elastic in 
your demands,' said he. 'What if I were to pro- 
ceed on your own principle of division, and offer 
twenty-five ? ' 

' Done ! ' cried Somerset ; and then, overcome by 
a sudden embarrassment, ' You see,' he added apolo- 
getically, * it is all found money for me.' 

'Really?' said the stranger, looking at him all 
the while with growing wonder. ' Without extras, 
then ? ' 

'I — I suppose so,' stammered the keeper of the 
lodging-house. 

' Service included ? ' pursued the gentleman. 

'Service?' cried Somerset. 'Do you mean that 
you expect me to empty your slops ?' 

The gentleman regarded him with a very friendly 
interest. ' My dear fellow,' said he, ' if you take my 
advice, you will give up this business.' And there- 
upon he resumed his hat and took himself away. 

This smarting disappointment produced a strong 
effect on the artist of the cartoons ; and he began 
with shame to eat up his rosier illusions. First one 
and then the other of his great works was con- 
demned, withdrawn from exhibition, and relegated, 
as a mere wall-picture, to the decoration of the 
dining-room. Their place was taken by a replica 
of the original wafered announcement, to which, 
in particularly large letters, he had added the pithy 
rubric: 'No service.' Meanwhile he had fallen into 
something as nearly bordering on low spirits as was 
consistent with his disposition ; depressed, at once by 

147 



THE DYNAMITER 

the failure of his scheme, the laughable turn of his 
late interview, and the judicial blindness of the 
public to the merit of the twin cartoons. 

Perhaps a week had passed before he was again 
startled by the note of the knocker. A gentleman 
of a somewhat foreign and somewhat military air, 
yet closely shaven and wearing a soft hat, desired in 
the politest terms to visit the apartments. He had 
(he explained) a friend, a gentleman in tender health, 
desirous of a sedate and solitary life, apart from 
interruptions and the noises of the common lodging- 
house. ' The unusual clause,' he continued, ' in your 
announcement, particularly struck me. " This," I 
said, "is the place for Mr. Jones." You are your- 
self, sir, a professional gentleman?' concluded the 
visitor, looking keenly in Somerset's face. 

' I am an artist,' replied the young man lightly. 

'And these,' observed the other, taking a side 
glance through the open door of the dining-room, 
which they were then passing, 'these are some of 
your works. Very remarkable.' And he again and 
still more sharply peered into the countenance of 
the young man. 

Somerset, unable to suppress a blush, made the 
more haste to lead his visitor upstairs and to display 
the apartments. 

'Excellent,' observed the stranger, as he looked 
from one of the back windows. 'Is that a mews 
behind, sir ? Very good. Well, sir : see here. My 
friend will take your drawing-room floor ; he will 
sleep in the back drawing-room ; his nurse, an excel - 
148 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

lent Irish widow, will attend on all his wants and 
occupy a garret ; he will pay you the round sum of 
ten dollars a week ; and you, on your part, will 
engage to receive no other lodger? I think that 
fair.' 

Somerset had scarcely words in which to clothe his 
gratitude and joy. 

' Agreed,' said the other ; ' and to spare you trouble, 
my friend will bring some men with him to make the 
changes. You will find him a retiring inmate, sir ; 
receives but few, and rarely leaves the house except 
at night.' 

' Since I have been in this house,' returned Somer- 
set, ' I have myself, unless it were to fetch beer, 
rarely gone abroad except in the evening. But a 
man,' he added, 'must have some amusement.' 

An hour was then agreed on ; the gentleman 
departed ; and Somerset sat down to compute in 
English money the value of the figure named. The 
result of this investigation filled him with amaze- 
ment and disgust ; but it was now too late ; nothing 
remained but to endure ; and he awaited the arrival 
of his tenant, still trying, by various arithmetical 
expedients, to obtain a more favourable quotation 
for the dollar. With the approach of dusk, how- 
ever, his impatience drove him once more to the 
front balcony. The night fell, mild and airless ; the 
lamps shone around the central darkness of the 
garden ; and through the tall grove of trees that 
intervened, many warmly illuminated windows on 
the farther side of the square told their tale of white 

149 



THE DYNAMITER 

napery, choice wine, and genial hospitality. The 
stars were already thickening overhead, when the 
young man's eyes alighted on a procession of three 
four-wheelers, coasting round the garden railing and 
bound for the Superfluous Mansion. They were 
laden with formidable boxes ; moved in a military 
order, one following another ; and, by the extreme 
slowness of their advance, inspired Somerset with 
the most serious ideas of his tenant's malady. 

By the time he had the door open, the cabs had 
drawn up beside the pavement ; and from the two 
first, there had alighted the military gentleman of 
the morning and two very stalwart porters. These 
proceeded instantly to take possession of the house ; 
with their own hands, and firmly rejecting Somerset's 
assistance, they carried in the various crates and 
boxes ; with their own hands dismounted and trans- 
ferred to the back drawing-room the bed in which 
the tenant was to sleep ; and it was not until the 
bustle of arrival had subsided, and the arrangements 
were complete, that there descended, from the third 
of the three vehicles, a gentleman of great stature 
and broad shoulders, leaning on the shoulder of a 
woman in a widow's dress, and himself covered by a 
long cloak and muffled in a coloured comforter. 

Somerset had but a glimpse of him in passing ; he 
was soon shut into the back drawing-room ; the 
other men departed; silence redescended on the 
house ; and had not the nurse appeared a little 
before half-past ten, and, with a strong brogue, 
asked if there were a decent public-house in the 
150 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

neighbourhood, Somerset might have still supposed 
himself to be alone in the Superfluous Mansion. 

Day followed day ; and still the young man had 
never come by speech or sight of his mysterious 
lodger. The doors of the drawing-room flat were 
never open ; and although Somerset could hear him 
moving to and fro, the tall man had never quitted 
the privacy of his apartments. Visitors, indeed, 
arrived ; sometimes in the dusk, sometimes at in- 
tempestuous hours of night or morning ; men, for 
the most part ; some meanly attired, some decently ; 
some loud, some cringeing ; and yet all, in the eyes 
of Somerset, displeasing. A certain air of fear and 
secrecy was common to them all ; they were all 
voluble, he thought, and ill at ease ; even the mili- 
tary gentleman proved, on a closer inspection, to be 
no gentleman at all ; and as for the doctor who 
attended the sick man, his manners were not sug- 
gestive of a university career. The nurse, again, 
was scarcely a desirable house-fellow. Since her 
arrival, the fall of whisky in the young man's private 
bottle was much accelerated ; and though never com- 
municative, she was at times unpleasantly familiar. 
When asked about the patient's health, she would 
dolorously shake her head, and declare that the poor 
gentleman was in a pitiful condition. 

Yet somehow Somerset had early begun to enter- 
tain the notion that his complaint was other than 
bodily. The ill-looking birds that gathered to the 
house, the strange noises that sounded from the 
drawing-room in the dead hours of night, the care- 

151 



THE DYNAMITER 

less attendance and intemperate habits of the nurse, 
the entire absence of correspondence, the entire 
seclusion of Mr. Jones himself, whose face, up to 
that hour, he could not have sworn to in a court of 
justice — all weighed unpleasantly upon the young 
man's mind. A sense of something evil, irregular 
and underhand, haunted and depressed him ; and 
this uneasy sentiment was the more firmly rooted 
in his mind, when, in the fulness of time, he had 
an opportunity of observing the features of his 
tenant. It fell in this way. The young landlord 
was awakened about four in the morning by a noise 
in the hall. Leaping to his feet, and opening the 
door of the library, he saw the tall man, candle in 
hand, in earnest conversation with the gentleman 
who had taken the rooms. The faces of both were 
strongly illuminated ; and in that of his tenant, 
Somerset could perceive none of the marks of 
disease, but every sign of health, energy, and resolu- 
tion. While he was still looking, the visitor took 
his departure; and the invalid, having carefully 
fastened the front door, sprang upstairs without a 
trace of lassitude. 

That night upon his pillow, Somerset began to 
kindle once more into the hot fit of the detective 
fever ; and the next morning resumed the practice 
of his art with careless hand and an abstracted mind. 
The day was destined to be fertile in surprises ; nor 
had he long been seated at the easel ere the first of 
these occurred. A cab laden with baggage drew 
up before the door ; and Mrs. Luxmore in person 
152 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

rapidly mounted the steps and began to pound upon 
the knocker. Somerset hastened to attend the 
summons. 

' My dear fellow,' she said, with the utmost gaiety, 
'here I come dropping from the moon. I am 
delighted to find you faithful ; and I have no doubt 
you will be equally pleased to be restored to liberty.' 

Somerset could find no words, whether of protest 
or welcome ; and the spirited old lady pushed briskly 
by him and paused on the threshold of the dining- 
room. The sight that met her eyes was one well 
calculated to inspire astonishment. The mantel- 
piece was arrayed with saucepans and empty bottles ; 
on the fire some chops were frying; the floor was 
littered from end to end with books, clothes, walking- 
canes, and the materials of the painter's craft ; but 
what far outstripped the other wonders of the place 
was the corner which had been arranged for the 
study of still-life. This formed a sort of rockery ; 
conspicuous upon which, according to the principles 
of the art of composition, a cabbage was relieved 
against a copper kettle, and both contrasted with the 
mail of a boiled lobster. 

' My gracious goodness ! ' cried the lady of the 
house ; and then, turning in wrath on the young 
man, ' from what rank in life are you sprung ? ' she 
demanded. ' You have the exterior of a gentleman ; 
but from the astonishing evidences before me, I 
should say you can only be a greengrocer's man. 
Pray, gather up your vegetables, and let me see no 
more of you.' 

153 



THE DYNAMITER 

' Madam,' babbled Somerset, * you promised me a 
month's warning.' 

' That was under a misapprehension,' returned the 
old lady. ' I now give you warning to leave at 
once.' 

' Madam,' said the young man, ' I wish I could ; 
and indeed, as far as I am concerned, it might be 
done. But then, my lodger ! ' 

' Your lodger ? ' echoed Mrs. Luxmore. 

' My lodger : why should I deny it ? ' returned 
Somerset. ' He is only by the week.' 

The old lady sat down upon a chair. ' You have 
a lodger ? — you ? ' she cried. ' And pray, how did 
you get him ? ' 

' By advertisement,' replied the young man. ' O 
madam, I have not lived unobservantly. I adopted ' 
— his eyes involuntarily shifted to the cartoons — ' I 
adopted every method.' 

Her eyes had followed his ; for the first time in 
Somerset's experience, she produced a double eye- 
glass ; and as soon as the full merit of the works had 
flashed upon her, she gave way to peal after peal of 
her trilling and soprano laughter. 

' Oh, I think you are perfectly delicious ! ' she cried, 
' I do hope you had them in the window. M'Pher- 
son,' she continued, crying to her maid, who had 
been all this time grimly waiting in the hall, ' I 
lunch with Mr. Somerset. Take the cellar key 
and bring some wine.' 

In this gay humour, she continued throughout the 
luncheon ; presented Somerset with a couple of dozen 
154 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

of wine, which she made M'Pherson bring up from 
the cellar, — ' as a present, my dear,' she said, with 
another burst of tearful merriment, ' for your charm- 
ing pictures, which you must be sure to leave me 
when you go ' ; and finally, protesting that she dared 
not spoil the absurdest houseful of madmen in the 
whole of London, departed (as she vaguely phrased 
it) for the continent of Europe. 

She was no sooner gone than Somerset en- 
countered in the corridor the Irish nurse ; sober, to 
all appearance, and yet a prey to singularly strong 
emotion. It was made to appear, from her account, 
that Mr. Jones had already suffered acutely in his 
health from Mrs. Luxmore's visit, and that nothing 
short of a full explanation could allay the invalid's 
uneasiness. Somerset, somewhat staring, told what 
he thought fit of the affair. 

'Is that all?' cried the woman. 'As God sees 
you, is that all ? ' 

'My good woman,' said the young man, 'I have 
no idea what you can be driving at. Suppose the 
lady were my friend's wife, suppose she were my 
fairy godmother, suppose she were the Queen of 
Portugal ; and how should that affect yourself or 
Mr. Jones ? ' 

' Blessed Mary ! ' cried the nurse, ' it 's he that will 
be glad to hear it ! ' 

And immediately she fled upstairs. 

Somerset, on his part, returned to the dining-room, 
and, with a very thoughtful brow and ruminating 
many theories, disposed of the remainder of the 

155 



THE DYNAMITER 

bottle. It was port ; and port is a wine, sole among 
its equals and superiors, that can in some degree 
support the competition of tobacco. Sipping, smok- 
ing, and theorising, Somerset moved on from sus- 
picion to suspicion, from resolve to resolve, still 
growing braver and rosier as the bottle ebbed. He 
was a sceptic, none prouder of the name ; he had no 
horror at command, whether for crimes or vices, but 
beheld and embraced the world, with an immoral 
approbation, the frequent consequence of youth and 
health. At the same time, he felt convinced that he 
dwelt under the same roof with secret malefactors ; 
and the unregenerate instinct of the chase impelled 
him to severity. The bottle had run low ; the sum- 
mer sun had finally withdrawn ; and at the same 
moment, night and the pangs of hunger recalled him 
from his dreams. 

He went forth, and dined in the Criterion : a 
dinner in consonance, not so much with his purse, 
as with the admirable wine he had discussed. What 
with one thing and another, it was long past mid- 
night when he returned home. A cab was at the 
door ; and entering the hall, Somerset found himself 
face to face with one of the most regular of the few 
who visited Mr. Jones : a man of powerful figure, 
strong lineaments, and a chin-beard in the American 
fashion. This person was carrying on one shoulder 
a black portmanteau, seemingly of considerable 
weight. That he should find a visitor removing 
baggage in the dead of night, recalled some odd 
stories to the young man's memory ; he had heard 
156 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

of lodgers who thus gradually drained away, not only 
their own effects, but the very furniture and fittings 
of the house that sheltered them ; and now, in a 
mood between pleasantry and suspicion, and aping 
the manner of a drunkard, he roughly bumped against 
the man with the chin-beard and knocked the port- 
manteau from his shoulder to the floor. With a face 
struck suddenly as white as paper, the man with the 
chin-beard called lamentably on the name of his 
Maker, and fell in a mere heap on the mat at the 
foot of the stairs. At the same time, though only 
for a single instant, the heads of the sick lodger and 
the Irish nurse popped out like rabbits over the 
banisters of the first floor ; and on both the same 
scare and pallor were apparent. 

The sight of this incredible emotion turned Somer- 
set to stone, and he continued speechless, while the 
man gathered himself together, and, with the help of 
the handrail and audibly thanking God, scrambled 
once more upon his feet. 

'What in Heavens name ails you?' gasped the 
young man as soon as he could find words and 
utterance. 

' Have you a drop of brandy ? ' returned the other. 
' I am sick.' 

Somerset administered two drams, one after the 
other, to the man with the chin-beard; who then, 
somewhat restored, began to confound himself in 
apologies for what he called his miserable nervous- 
ness — the result, he said, of a long course of dumb 
ague ; and having taken leave with a hand that still 

157 



THE DYNAMITER 

sweated and trembled, he gingerly resumed his 
burthen and departed. 

Somerset retired to bed but not to sleep. What, 
he asked himself, had been the contents of the black 
portmanteau ? Stolen goods ? the carcass of one 
murdered ? or — and at the thought he sat upright in 
bed — an infernal machine ? He took a solemn vow 
that he would set these doubts at rest ; and, with the 
next morning, installed himself beside the dining- 
room window, vigilant with eye and ear, to await 
and profit by the earliest opportunity. 

The hours went heavily by. Within the house 
there was no circumstance of novelty ; unless it 
might be that the nurse more frequently made little 
journeys round the corner of the square, and before 
afternoon was somewhat loose of speech and gait. 
A little after six, however, there came round the 
corner of the gardens a very handsome and elegantly 
dressed young woman, who paused a little way off, 
and for some time, and with frequent sighs, contem- 
plated the front of the Superfluous Mansion. It 
was not the first time that she had thus stood afar 
and looked upon it, like our common parents at the 
gates of Eden ; and the young man had already had 
occasion to remark the lively slimness of her carriage, 
and had already been the butt of a chance arrow 
from her eye. He hailed her coming, then, with 
pleasant feelings, and moved a little nearer to the 
window to enjoy the sight. What was his surprise, 
however, when, as if with a sensible effort, she drew 
near, mounted the steps, and tapped discreetly at the 

158 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

door ! He made haste to get before the Irish nurse, 
who was not improbably asleep, and had the satis- 
faction to receive this gracious visitor in person. 

She inquired for Mr. Jones ; and then, without 
transition, asked the young man if he were the 
person of the house (and at the words, he thought 
he could perceive her to be smiling), ' because,' she 
added, 'if you are, I should like to see some of the 
other rooms.' 

Somerset told her he was under an engagement to 
receive no other lodgers ; but she assured him that 
would be no matter, as these were friends of Mr. 
Jones's. ' And,' she continued, moving suddenly to 
the dining-room door, 'let us begin here.' Somerset 
was too late to prevent her entering, and perhaps he 
lacked the courage to essay. ' Ah ! ' she cried, ' how 
changed it is ! ' 

'Madam,' cried the young man, 'since your en- 
trance, it is I who have the right to say so.' 

She received this inane compliment with a demure 
and conscious droop of the eyelids, and gracefully 
steering her dress among the mingled litter, now 
with a smile, now with a sigh, reviewed the wonders 
of the two apartments. She gazed upon the cartoons 
with sparkling eyes, and a heightened colour, and, 
in a somewhat breathless voice, expressed a high 
opinion of their merits. She praised the effective 
disposition of the rockery, and in the bedroom, of 
which Somerset had vainly endeavoured to defend 
the entry, she fairly broke forth in admiration. 
' How simple and manly ! ' she cried : ' none of that 

159 



THE DYNAMITER 

effeminacy of neatness, which is so detestable in a 
man ! ' Hard upon this, telling him, before he had 
time to reply, that she very well knew her way, and 
would trouble him no further, she took her leave 
with an engaging smile, and ascended the staircase 
alone. 

For more than an hour the young lady remained 
closeted with Mr. Jones; and at the end of that 
time, the night being now come completely, they 
left the house in company. This was the first time 
since the arrival of his lodger that Somerset had 
found himself alone with the Irish widow; and 
without the loss of any more time than was required 
by decency, he stepped to the foot of the stairs 
and hailed her by her name. She came instantly, 
wreathed in weak smiles and with a nodding head ; 
and when the young man politely offered to intro- 
duce her to the treasures of his art, she swore that 
nothing could afford her greater pleasure, for, though 
she had never crossed the threshold, she had fre- 
quently observed his beautiful pictures through the 
door. On entering the dining-room, the sight of a 
bottle and two glasses prepared her to be a gentle 
critic ; and as soon as the pictures had been viewed 
and praised, she was easily persuaded to join the 
painter in a single glass. ' Here,' she said, ' are my 
respects ; and a pleasure it is, in this horrible house, 
to see a gentleman like yourself, so affable and free, 
and a very nice painter, I am sure.' One glass so 
agreeably prefaced, was sure to lead to the acceptance 
of a second ; at the third, Somerset was free to cease 
1 60 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

from the affectation of keeping her company ; and as 
for the fourth, she asked it of her own accord. ' For 
indeed,' said she, 'what with all these clocks and 
chemicals, without a drop of the creature life would 
be impossible entirely. And you seen yourself that 
even M'Guire was glad to beg for it. And even 
himself, when he is downhearted with all these cruel 
disappointments, though as temperate a man as any 
child, will be sometimes crying for a glass of it. 
And I '11 thank you for a thimbleful to settle what I 
got.' Soon after, she began with tears to narrate 
the deathbed dispositions and lament the trifling 
assets of her husband. Then she declared she heard 
'the master' calling her, rose to her feet, made 
but one lurch of it into the still-life rockery, and, 
with her head upon the lobster, fell into stertorous 
slumbers. 

Somerset mounted at once to the first story, and 
opened the door of the drawing-room, which was 
brilliantly lit by several lamps. It was a great 
apartment ; looking on the square with three tall 
windows, and joined by a pair of ample folding-doors 
to the next room ; elegant in proportion, papered in 
sea-green, furnished in velvet of a delicate blue, and 
adorned with a majestic mantelpiece of variously 
tinted marbles. Such was the room that Somerset 
remembered ; that which he now beheld was changed 
in almost every feature : the furniture covered with 
a figured chintz ; the walls hung with a rhubarb- 
coloured paper, and diversified by the curtained 
recesses for no less than seven windows. It seemed 
7— l 161 



THE DYNAMITER 

to himself that he must have entered, without 
observing the transition, into the adjoining house. 
Presently from these more specious changes, his eye 
condescended to the many curious objects with 
which the floor was littered. Here were the locks 
of dismounted pistols ; clocks and clockwork in 
every stage of demolition, some still busily ticking, 
some reduced to their dainty elements ; a great 
company of carboys, jars, and bottles ; a carpenter's 
bench and a laboratory-table. 

The back drawing-room, to which Somerset pro- 
ceeded, had likewise undergone a change. It was 
transformed to the exact appearance of a common 
lodging-house bedroom ; a bed with green curtains 
occupied one corner; and the window was blocked 
by the regulation table and mirror. The door of 
a small closet here attracted the young man's 
attention ; and striking a vesta, he opened it and 
entered. On a table, several wigs and beards were 
lying spread ; about the walls hung an incongruous 
display of suits and overcoats ; and conspicuous 
among the last the young man observed a large 
overall of the most costly sealskin. In a flash his 
mind reverted to the advertisement in the Standard 
newspaper. The great height of his lodger, the 
disproportionate breadth of his shoulders, and the 
strange particulars of his instalment, all pointed to 
the same conclusion. 

The vesta had now burned to his fingers ; and 
taking the coat upon his arm, Somerset hastily 
returned to the lighted drawing-room. There, with 
162 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

a mixture of fear and admiration, he pored upon its 
goodly proportions and the regularity and softness 
of the pile. The sight of a large pier-glass put 
another fancy in his head. He donned the fur coat ; 
and standing before the mirror in an attitude sugges- 
tive of a Russian prince, he thrust his hands into 
the ample pockets. There his fingers encountered a 
folded journal. He drew it out, and recognised the 
type and paper of the Standard', and at the same 
instant his eyes alighted on the offer of two hundred 
pounds. Plainly then, his lodger, now no longer 
mysterious, had laid aside his coat on the very day 
of the appearance of the advertisement. 

He was thus standing, the tell-tale coat upon his 
back, the incriminating paper in his hand, when the 
door opened and the tall lodger, with a firm but 
somewhat pallid face, stepped into the room and 
closed the door again behind him. For some time 
the two looked upon each other in perfect silence ; 
then Mr. Jones moved forward to the table, took a 
seat, and, still without once changing the direction 
of his eyes, addressed the young man. 

' You are right,' he said. ' It is for me the blood 
money is offered. And now what will you do ? ' 

It was a question to which Somerset was far from 
being able to reply. Taken as he was at unawares, 
masquerading in the man's own coat, and surrounded 
by a whole arsenal of diabolical explosives, the keeper 
of the lodging-house was silenced. 

' Yes,' resumed the other, * I am he. I am that 
man, whom with impotent hate and fear they still 

163 



THE DYNAMITER 

hunt from den to den, from disguise to disguise. 
Yes, my landlord, you have it in your power, if you 
be poor, to lay the basis of your fortune ; if you be 
unknown, to capture honour at one snatch. You 
have hocussed an innocent widow ; and I find you 
here in my apartment, for whose use I pay you in 
stamped money, searching my wardrobe, and your 
hand — shame, sir ! — your hand in my very pocket. 
You can now complete the cycle of your ignominious 
acts, by what will be at once the simplest, the safest, 
and the most remunerative.' The speaker paused 
as if to emphasise his words ; and then, with a great 
change of tone and manner, thus resumed : ' And 
yet, sir, when I look upon your face, I feel certain 
that I cannot be deceived : certain that in spite of 
all, I have the honour and pleasure of speaking to 
a gentleman. Take off my coat, sir — which but 
cumbers you. Divest yourself of this confusion : 
that which is but thought upon, thank God, need be 
no burthen to the conscience ; we have all harboured 
guilty thoughts ; and if it flashed into your mind to 
sell my flesh and blood, my anguish in the dock, and 
the sweat of my death agony — it was a thought, 
dear sir, you were as incapable of acting on, as I 
of any further question of your honour.' At these 
words, the speaker, with a very open, smiling coun- 
tenance, like a forgiving father, offered Somerset his 
hand. 

It was not in the young man's nature to refuse 
forgiveness or dissect generosity. He instantly, and 
almost without thought, accepted the proffered grasp. 
164 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

' And now,' resumed the lodger, ' now that I hold 
in mine your loyal hand, I lay by my apprehensions, 
I dismiss suspicion, I go further — by an effort of 
will, I banish the memory of what is past. How 
you came here, I care not : enough that you are 
here — as my guest. Sit ye down ; and let us, with 
your good permission, improve acquaintance over a 
glass of excellent whisky.' 

So speaking, he produced glasses and a bottle ; 
and the pair pledged each other in silence. 

'Confess,' observed the smiling host, 'you were 
surprised at the appearance of the room.' 

' I was indeed,' said Somerset ; ' nor can I imagine 
the purpose of these changes.' 

'These,' replied the conspirator, 'are the device? 
by which I continue to exist. Conceive me now, 
accused before one of your unjust tribunals ; con- 
ceive the various witnesses appearing, and the 
singular variety of their reports ! One will have 
visited me in this drawing-room as it originally 
stood ; a second finds it as it is to-night ; and to- 
morrow or next day, all may have been changed. 
If you love romance (as artists do), few lives are 
more romantic than that of the obscure individual 
now addressing you. Obscure yet famous. Mine is 
an anonymous, infernal glory. By infamous means, I 
work towards my bright purpose. I found the liberty 
and peace of a poor country desperately abused ; the 
future smiles upon that land ; yet, in the meantime, 
I lead the existence of a hunted brute, work towards 
appalling ends, and practise hell's dexterities.' 

165 



THE DYNAMITER 

Somerset, glass in hand, contemplated the strange 
fanatic before him, and listened to his heated rhap- 
sody, with indescribable bewilderment. He looked 
him in the face with curious particularity ; saw there 
the marks of education ; and wondered the more 
profoundly. 

' Sir,' he said — ' for I know not whether I should 
still address you as Mr. Jones ' 

'Jones, Breitman, Higginbotham, Pumpernickel, 
Daviot, Henderland, by all or any of these you may 
address me,' said the plotter ; ' for all I have at some 
time borne. Yet that which I most prize, that 
which is most feared, hated, and obeyed, is not a 
name to be found in your directories ; it is not a 
name current in post-offices or banks ; and indeed, 
like the celebrated clan M'Gregor, I may justly 
describe myself as being nameless by day. But,' 
he continued, rising to his feet, 'by night, and 
among my desperate followers, I am the redoubted 
Zero.' 

Somerset was unacquainted with the name; but 
he politely expressed surprise and gratification. ' I 
am to understand,' he continued, ' that, under this 
alias, you follow the profession of a dynamiter ? ' 1 

1 The Arabian author of the original has here a long passage conceived 
in a style too oriental for the English reader. We subjoin a specimen, 
and it seems doubtful whether it should be printed as prose or verse : 
' Any writard who writes dynamitard shall find in me a never-resting 
fightard ' ; and he goes on (if we correctly gather his meaning) to object 
to such elegant and obviously correct spellings as lamp-lightard, corn- 
dealard, apple-filchard (clearly justified by the parallel — pilchard) and 
opera danceard. ' Dynamitist/ he adds, ' I could understand.' 

1 66 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

The plotter had resumed his seat and now re- 
plenished the glasses. 

' I do,' he said. * In this dark period of time, 
a star — the star of dynamite — has risen for the 
oppressed ; and among those who practise its use, 
so thick beset with dangers and attended by such 
incredible difficulties and disappointments, few have 

been more assiduous, and not many ' He paused, 

and a shade of embarrassment appeared upon his 
face — 'not many have been more successful than 
myself.' 

' I can imagine,' observed Somerset, ' that, from 
the sweeping consequences looked for, the career is 
not devoid of interest. You have, besides, some of 
the entertainment of the game of hide-and-seek. 
But it would still seem to me — I speak as a layman 
— that nothing could be simpler or safer than to 
deposit an infernal machine and retire to an adjacent 
county to await the painful consequences.' 

' You speak, indeed,' returned the plotter, with 
some evidence of warmth, ' you speak, indeed, most 
ignorantly. Do you make nothing, then, of such a 
peril as we share this moment ? Do you think it 
nothing to occupy a house like this one, mined, 
menaced, and, in a word, literally tottering to its 
fall?' 

' Good God ! ' ejaculated Somerset. 

' And when you speak of ease,' pursued Zero, ' in 
this age of scientific studies, you fill me with surprise. 
Are you not aware that chemicals are proverbially 
fickle as woman, and clockwork as capricious as the 

167 



THE DYNAMITER 

very devil ? Do you see upon my brow these furrows 
of anxiety ? do you observe the silver threads that 
mingle with my hair ? Clockwork, clockwork has 
stamped them on my brow — chemicals have sprinkled 
them upon my locks ! No, Mr. Somerset,' he re- 
sumed, after a moment's pause, his voice still quiver- 
ing with sensibility, ' you must not suppose the 
dynamiter's life to be all gold. On the contrary : 
you cannot picture to yourself the bloodshot vigils 
and the staggering disappointments of a life like 
mine. I have toiled (let us say) for months, up early 
and down late ; my bag is ready, my clock set ; a 
daring agent has hurried with white face to de- 
posit the instrument of ruin ; we await the fall 
of England, the massacre of thousands, the yell of 
fear and execration ; and lo ! a snap like that of a 
child's pistol, an offensive smell, and the entire loss 
of so much time and plant ! If,' he concluded 
musingly, ' we had been merely able to recover the 
lost bags, I believe, with but a touch or two, I could 
have remedied the peccant engine. But what with 
the loss of plant and the almost insuperable scientific 
difficulties of the task, our friends in France are 
almost ready to desert the chosen medium. They 
propose, instead, to break up the drainage system of 
cities and sweep off whole populations with the 
devastating typhoid pestilence : a tempting and a 
scientific project : a process, indiscriminate indeed, 
but of idyllical simplicity. I recognise its elegance ; 
but, sir, I have something of the poet in my nature ; 
something, possibly, of the tribune. And, for my 
1 68 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

small part, I shall remain devoted to that more em- 
phatic, more striking, and (if you please) more popular 
method of the explosive bomb. Yes,' he cried, with 
unshaken hope, ' I will still continue and, I feel it in 
my bosom, I shall yet succeed.' 

' Two things I remark,' said Somerset. ' The first 
somewhat staggers me. Have you, then — in all this 
course of life, which you have sketched so vividly — 
have you not once succeeded ? ' 

' Pardon me,' said Zero. ' I have had one success. 
You behold in me the author of the outrage of Red 
Lion Court.' 

' But if I remember right,' objected Somerset, ' the 
thing was a fiasco. A scavenger's barrow and some 
copies of the Weekly Budget — these were the only 
victims.' 

' You will pardon me again,' returned Zero, with 
positive asperity : ' a child was injured.' 

1 And that fitly brings me to my second point,' 
said Somerset. * For I observed you to employ the 
word "indiscriminate." Now, surely, a scavenger's 
barrow and a child (if child there were) represent the 
very acme and top pin-point of indiscriminate and, 
pardon me, of ineffectual reprisal.' 

' Did I employ the word ? ' asked Zero. ' Well, 
I will not defend it. But for efficiency, you touch 
on graver matters ; and before entering upon so vast 
a subject, permit me once more to fill our glasses. 
Disputation is dry work,' he added, with a charming 
gaiety of manner. 

Once more accordingly the pair pledged each other 

169 



THE DYNAMITER 

in a stalwart grog ; and Zero, leaning back with an 
air of some complacency, proceeded more largely to 
develop his opinions. 

' The indiscriminate ? ' he began. ' War, my dear 
sir, is indiscriminate. War spares not the child ; it 
spares not the barrow of the harmless scavenger. 
No more,' he concluded, beaming, ' no more do I. 
Whatever may strike fear, whatever may confound 
or paralyse the activities of the guilty nation, barrow, 
or child, imperial Parliament or excursion steamer, 
is welcome to my simple plans. You are not,' he 
inquired, with a shade of sympathetic interest, * you 
are not, I trust, a believer ? ' 

' Sir, I believe in nothing,' said the young man. 

6 You are then,' replied Zero, * in a position to 
grasp my argument. We agree that humanity is 
the object, the glorious triumph of humanity ; and 
being pledged to labour for that end, and face to 
face with the banded opposition of kings, parlia- 
ments, churches, and the members of the force, who 
am I — who are we, dear sir — to affect a nicety about 
the tools employed ? You might, perhaps, expect 
us to attack the Queen, the sinister Gladstone, the 
rigid Derby, or the dexterous Granville ; but there 
you would be in error. Our appeal is to the body 
of the people ; it is these that we would touch and 
interest. Now, sir, have you observed the English 
housemaid ? ' 

' I should think I had,' cried Somerset. 

' From a man of taste and a votary of art, I had 
expected it,' returned the conspirator politely. ' A 
170 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

type apart ; a very charming figure ; and thoroughly 
adapted to our ends. The neat cap, the clean 
print, the comely person, the engaging manner ; her 
position between classes, parents in one, employers 
in another ; the probability that she will have at least 
one sweetheart, whose feelings we shall address : — 
yes, I have a leaning — call it, if you will, a weakness 
— for the housemaid. Not that I would be under- 
stood to despise the nurse. For the child is a very 
interesting feature : I have long since marked out 
the child as the sensitive point in society.' He 
wagged his head, with a wise, pensive smile. ' And 
talking, sir, of children and of the perils of our trade, 
let me now narrate to you a little incident of an 
explosive bomb, that fell out some weeks ago under 
my own observation. It fell out thus.' 

And Zero leaning back in his chair narrated the 
following simple tale. 



ZERO'S TALE OF THE EXPLOSIVE 
BOMB 1 

I dined by appointment with one of our most trusted 
agents, in a private chamber at St. James's Hall. 
You have seen the man : it was M'Guire, the most 
chivalrous of creatures, but not himself expert in our 

1 The Arabian author, with that quaint particularity of touch which 
our translation usually pretermits, here registers a somewhat interesting 
detail. Zero pronounced the word ' hoom ' ; and the reader, if but for 
the nonce, will possibly consent to follow him. 

171 



THE DYNAMITER 

contrivances. Hence the necessity of our meeting ; 
for I need not remind you what enormous issues 
depend upon the nice adjustment of the engine. I set 
our little petard for half an hour, the scene of action 
being hard by ; and, the better to avert miscarriage, 
employed a device, a recent invention of my own, 
by which the opening of the Gladstone bag in which 
the bomb was carried should instantly determine 
the explosion. M'Guire was somewhat dashed by 
this arrangement, which was new to him : and 
pointed out, with excellent, clear good sense, that 
should he be arrested, it would probably involve him 
in the fall of our opponents. But I was not to be 
moved, made a strong appeal to his patriotism, gave 
him a good glass of whisky, and despatched him on 
his glorious errand. 

Our objective was the effigy of Shakespeare in 
Leicester Square : a spot, I think, admirably chosen ; 
not only for the sake of the dramatist, still very 
foolishly claimed as a glory by the English race, in 
spite of his disgusting political opinions ; but from 
the fact that the seats in the immediate neighbour- 
hood are often thronged by children, errand-boys, 
unfortunate young ladies of the poorer class, and 
infirm old men — all classes making a direct appeal 
to public pity, and therefore suitable with our designs. 
As M'Guire drew near, his heart was inflamed by the 
most noble sentiment of triumph. Never had he 
seen the garden so crowded ; children, still stumb- 
ling in the impotence of youth, ran to and fro, 
shouting and playing, round the pedestal ; an old, 
172 



ZERO'S TALE 

sick pensioner sat upon the nearest bench, a medal 
on his breast, a stick with which he walked (for he 
was disabled by wounds) reclining on his knee. 
Guilty England would thus be stabbed in the most 
delicate quarters ; the moment had, indeed, been 
well selected ; and M'Guire, with a radiant prevision 
of the event, drew merrily nearer. Suddenly his eye 
alighted on the burly form of a policeman, standing 
hard by the effigy in an attitude of watch. My bold 
companion paused ; he looked about him closely ; 
here and there, at different points of the enclosure, 
other men stood or loitered, affecting an abstraction, 
feigning to gaze upon the shrubs, feigning to talk, 
feigning to be weary and to rest upon the benches. 
M'Guire was no child in these affairs ; he instantly 
divined one of the plots of the Machiavellian Glad- 
stone. 

A chief difficulty with which we have to deal is a 
certain nervousness in the subaltern branches of the 
corps ; as the hour of some design draws near, these 
chicken-souled conspirators appear to suffer some 
revulsion of intent ; and frequently despatch to the 
authorities, not indeed specific denunciations, but 
vague anonymous warnings. But for this purely 
accidental circumstance, England had long ago 
been an historical expression. On the receipt of 
such a letter, the Government lay a trap for their 
adversaries, and surround the threatened spot with 
hirelings. My blood sometimes boils in my veins, 
when I consider the case of those who sell themselves 
for money in such a cause. True, thanks to the 

173 



THE DYNAMITER 

generosity of our supporters, we patriots receive a 
very comfortable stipend ; I myself, of course, touch 
a salary which puts me quite beyond the reach of 
any peddling, mercenary thoughts ; M'Guire, again, 
ere he joined our ranks, was on the brink of starving, 
and now, thank God ! receives a decent income. 
That is as it should be ; the patriot must not be 
diverted from his task by any base consideration ; 
and the distinction between our position and that of 
the police is too obvious to be stated. 

Plainly, however, our Leicester Square design had 
been divulged ; the Government had craftily filled 
the place with minions ; even the pensioner was not 
improbably a hireling in disguise ; and our emissary, 
without other aid or protection than the simple 
apparatus in his bag, found himself confronted by 
force ; brutal force ; that strong hand which was a 
character of the ages of oppression. Should he 
venture to deposit the machine, it was almost certain 
that he would be observed and arrested ; a cry would 
arise ; and there was just a fear that the police might 
not be present in sufficient force to protect him from 
the savagery of the mob. The scheme must be 
delayed. He stood with his bag on his arm, pre- 
tending to survey the front of the Alhambra, when 
there flashed into his mind a thought to appal the 
bravest. The machine was set ; at the appointed 
hour, it must explode ; and how, in the interval, was 
he to be rid of it ? 

Put yourself, I beseech you, into the body of that 
patriot. There he was, friendless and helpless ; a 
174 



ZERO'S TALE 

man in the very flower of life, for he is not yet 
forty ; with long years of happiness before him ; and 
now condemned, in one moment, to a cruel and 
revolting death by dynamite ! The square, he said, 
went round him like a thaumatrope ; he saw the 
Alhambra leap into the air like a balloon ; and reeled 
against the railing. It is probable he fainted. 

When he came to himself, a constable had him by 
the arm. 

< My God ! ' he cried. 

' You seem to be unwell, sir,' said the hireling. 

' I feel better now,' cried poor M'Guire : and with 
uneven steps, for the pavement of the square seemed 
to lurch and reel under his footing, he fled from the 
scene of this disaster. Fled ? Alas, from what was 
he fleeing ? Did he not carry that from which he 
fled, along with him ? and had he the wings of the 
eagle, had he the swiftness of the ocean winds, could 
he have been rapt into the uttermost quarters of the 
earth, how should he escape the ruin that he carried ? 
We have heard of living men who have been fettered 
to the dead ; the grievance, soberly considered, is no 
more than sentimental ; the case is but a flea-bite to 
that of him who should be linked, like poor M'Guire, 
to an explosive bomb. 

A thought struck him in Green Street, like a dart 
through his liver : suppose it were the hour already. 
He stopped as though he had been shot, and plucked 
his watch out. There was a howling in his ears, as 
loud as a winter tempest ; his sight was now obscured 
as if by a cloud, now, as by a lightning flash, would 

175 



THE DYNAMITER 

show him the very dust upon the street. But so 
brief were these intervals of vision, and so violently 
did the watch vibrate in his hands, that it was im- 
possible to distinguish the numbers on the dial. He 
covered his eyes for a few seconds ; and in that 
space, it seemed to him that he had fallen to be a 
man of ninety. When he looked again, the watch- 
plate had grown legible : he had twenty minutes. 
Twenty minutes, and no plan ! 

Green Street, at that time, was very empty ; and 
he now observed a little girl of about six drawing 
near to him and, as she came, kicking in front of 
her, as children will, a piece of wood. She sang, too ; 
and something in her accent recalling him to the 
past produced a sudden clearness in his mind. Here 
was a God-sent opportunity ! 

' My dear,' said he, ' would you like a present of a 
pretty bag ? ' 

The child cried aloud with joy and put out her 
hands to take it. She had looked first at the bag, 
like a true child ; but most unfortunately, before she 
had yet received the fatal gift, her eyes fell directly 
on M'Guire ; and no sooner had she seen the poor 
gentleman's face than she screamed out and leaped 
backward, as though she had seen the devil. Almost 
at the same moment a woman appeared upon the 
threshold of a neighbouring shop, and called upon 
the child in anger. ' Come here, colleen,' she said, 
' and don't be plaguing the poor old gentleman ! ' 
With that she re-entered the house, and the child 
followed her, sobbing aloud. 
176 



ZERO'S TALE 

With the loss of this hope M'Guire 's reason 
swooned within him. When next he awoke to con- 
sciousness, he was standing before St. Martin's-in- 
the-Fields, wavering like a drunken man ; the 
passers-by regarding him with eyes in which he 
read, as in a glass, an image of the terror and horror 
that dwelt within his own. 

' I am afraid you are very ill, sir,' observed a 
woman, stopping and gazing hard in his face. ' Can 
I do anything to help you ? ' 

< 111 ? ' said M'Guire. ' O God ! ' And then, re- 
covering some shadow of his self-command, 'Chronic, 
madam,' said he : ' a long course of the dumb ague. 
But since you are so compassionate — an errand that 
I lack the strength to carry out,' he gasped — 'this 
bag to Portman Square. O compassionate woman, 
as you hope to be saved, as you are a mother, in the 
name of your babes that wait to welcome you at 
home, oh, take this bag to Portman Square ! I have 
a mother, too,' he added, with a broken voice. 
' Number 19 Portman Square.' 

I suppose he had expressed himself with too much 
energy of voice ; for the woman was plainly taken 
with a certain fear of him. ' Poor gentleman ! ' 
said she. ' If I were you, I would go home.' And 
she left him standing there in his distress. 

* Home ! ' thought M'Guire, ' what a derision ! ' 
What home was there for him, the victim of philan- 
thropy? He thought of his old mother, of his 
happy youth ; of the hideous, rending pang of the 
explosion ; of the possibility that he might not be 
7 — m 177 



THE DYNAMITER 

killed, that he might be cruelly mangled, crippled 
for life, condemned to lifelong pains, blinded perhaps, 
and almost surely deafened. Ah, you spoke lightly 
of the dynamiter's peril ; but even waiving death, 
have you realised what it is for a fine, brave young 
man of forty, to be smitten suddenly with deafness, 
cut off from all the music of life, and from the voice 
of friendship and love ? How little do we realise 
the sufferings of others ! Even your brutal Govern- 
ment, in the heyday of its lust for cruelty, though 
it scruples not to hound the patriot with spies, to 
pack the corrupt jury, to bribe the hangman, and to 
erect the infamous gallows, would hesitate to inflict 
so horrible a doom : not, I am well aware, from 
virtue, not from philanthropy, but with the fear 
before it of the withering scorn of the good. 

But I wander from M'Guire. From this dread 
glance into the past and future, his thoughts returned 
at a bound upon the present. How had he wandered 
there ? and how long — O heavens ! how long had he 
been about it ? He pulled out his watch ; and found 
that but three minutes had elapsed. It seemed too 
bright a thing to be believed. He glanced at the 
church clock ; and sure enough, it marked an hour 
four minutes in advance of the watch. 

Of all that he endured, M'Guire declares that 
pang was the most desolate. Till then, he had had 
one friend, one counsellor, in whom he plenarily 
trusted ; by whose advertisement he numbered the 
minutes that remained to him of life ; on whose sure 
testimony he could tell when the time was come to 
178 



ZERO'S TALE 

risk the last adventure, to cast the bag away from 
him, and take to flight. And now in what was he 
to place reliance? His watch was slow; it might 
be losing time ; if so, in what degree ? What limit 
could he set to its derangement? and how much 
was it possible for a watch to lose in thirty minutes ? 
Five ? ten ? fifteen ? It might be so ; already, it 
seemed years since he had left St. James's Hall on 
this so promising enterprise ; at any moment, then, 
the blow was to be looked for. 

In the face of this new distress, the wild disorder 
of his pulses settled down ; and a broken weariness 
succeeded, as though he had lived for centuries and 
for centuries been dead. The buildings and the 
people in the street became incredibly small, and 
far-away, and bright; London sounded in his ears 
stilly, like a whisper ; and the rattle of the cab that 
nearly charged him down was like a sound from 
Africa. Meanwhile, he was conscious of a strange 
abstraction from himself; and heard and felt his 
footfalls on the ground, as those of a very old, 
small, debile, and tragically fortuned man, whom he 
sincerely pitied. 

As he was thus moving forward past the National 
Gallery, in a medium, it seemed, of greater rarity 
and quiet than ordinary air, there slipped into his 
mind the recollection of a certain entry in Whitcomb 
Street hard by, where he might perhaps lay down 
his tragic cargo unremarked. Thither, then, he bent 
his steps, seeming, as he went, to float above the 
pavement ; and there, in the mouth of the entry, he 

179 



THE DYNAMITER 

found a man in a sleeved waistcoat, gravely chewing 
a straw. He passed him by, and twice patrolled 
the entry, scouting for the barest chance ; but the 
man had faced about and continued to observe him 
curiously. 

Another hope was gone. M'Guire re-issued from 
the entry, still followed by the wondering eyes of the 
man in the sleeved waistcoat. He once more con- 
sulted his watch : there were but fourteen minutes 
left to him. At that, it seemed as if a sudden, 
genial heat were spread about his brain ; for a second 
or two, he saw the world as red as blood ; and there- 
after entered into a complete possession of himself, 
with an incredible cheerfulness of spirits, prompting 
him to sing and chuckle as he walked. And yet 
this mirth seemed to belong to things external ; and 
within, like a black and leaden-heavy kernel, he was 
conscious of the weight upon his soul. 

I care for nobody, no, not I, 
And nobody cares for me, 

he sang, and laughed at the appropriate burthen, so 
that the passengers stared upon him on the street. 
And still the warmth seemed to increase and to 
become more genial. What was life ? he considered, 
and what he, M'Guire ? What even Erin, our green 
Erin ? All seemed so incalculably little that he 
smiled as he looked down upon it. He would have 
given years, had he possessed them, for a glass of 
spirits ; but time failed, and he must deny himself 
this last indulgence. 
1 80 



ZEROS TALE 

At the corner of the Haymarket, he very jauntily 
hailed a hansom cab ; jumped in ; bade the fellow 
drive him to a part of the Embankment, which he 
named ; and as soon as the vehicle was in motion, 
concealed the bag as completely as he could under 
the vantage of the apron, and once more drew out 
his watch. So he rode for five interminable minutes, 
his heart in his mouth at every jolt, scarce able to 
possess his terrors, yet fearing to wake the attention 
of the driver by too obvious a change of plan, and 
willing, if possible, to leave him time to forget the 
Gladstone bag. 

At length, at the head of some stairs on the 
Embankment, he hailed ; the cab was stopped ; and 
he alighted — with how glad a heart ! He thrust his 
hand into his pocket. All was now over; he had 
saved his life ; nor that alone, but he had engineered 
a striking act of dynamite ; for what could be more 
pictorial, what more effective, than the explosion of 
a hansom cab, as it sped rapidly along the streets of 
London. He felt in one pocket ; then in another. 
The most crushing seizure of despair descended on 
his soul ; and, struck into abject dumbness, he stared 
upon the driver. He had not one penny. 

'Hillo,' said the driver, 'don't seem well.' 

* Lost my money,' said M'Guire, in tones so faint 
and strange that they surprised his hearing. 

The man looked through the trap. 'I dessay,' 
said he : ' you 've left your bag.' 

M'Guire half unconsciously fetched it out ; and 
looking on that black continent at arm's length, 

181 



THE DYNAMITER 

withered inwardly and felt his features sharpen as 
with mortal sickness. 

' This is not mine,' said he. ' Your last fare must 
have left it. You had better take it to the station.' 
\ ' Now look here,' returned the cabman : ' are you 
off your chump ? or am I ? ' 

' Well, then, I '11 tell you what,' exclaimed 
M'Guire : ' you take it for your fare ! ' 

' Oh, I dessay,' replied the driver. ' Anything 
else ? What 's in your bag ? Open it, and let me see. ' 

'No, no,' returned M'Guire. 'Oh no, not that. 
It 's a surprise ; it 's prepared expressly : a surprise 
for honest cabmen.' 

' No, you don't,' said the man, alighting from his 
perch, and coming very close to the unhappy patriot. 
' You 're either going to pay my fare, or get in again 
and drive to the office.' 

It was at this supreme hour of his distress, that 
M'Guire spied the stout figure of one Godall, a 
tobacconist of Rupert Street, drawing near along the 
Embankment. The man was not unknown to him ; 
he had bought of his wares, and heard him quoted 
for the soul of liberality ; and such was now the 
nearness of his peril, that even at such a straw of 
hope he clutched with gratitude. 

' Thank God ! ' he cried. ' Here comes a friend of 
mine. I '11 borrow.' And he dashed to meet the 
tradesman. ' Sir,' said he, ' Mr. Godall, I have dealt 
with you — you doubtless know my face — calamities 
for which I cannot blame myself have overwhelmed 
me. Oh, sir, for the love of innocence, for the sake 
182 



ZEROS TALE 

of the bonds of humanity, and as you hope for 
mercy at the throne of grace, lend me two-and-six ! ' 

' I do not recognise your face,' replied Mr. Godall ; 
' but I remember the cut of your beard, which I have 
the misfortune to dislike. Here, sir, is a sovereign ; 
which I very willingly advance to you, on the single 
condition that you shave your chin.' 

M'Guire grasped the coin without a word ; cast 
it to the cabman, calling out to him to keep the 
change ; bounded down the steps, flung the bag far 
forth into the river, and fell headlong after it. He 
was plucked from a watery grave, it is believed, by 
the hands of Mr. Godall. Even as he was being 
hoisted dripping to the shore, a dull and choked 
explosion shook the solid masonry of the Embank- 
ment, and far out in the river a momentary fountain 
rose and disappeared. 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION (continued) 

Somerset in vain strove to attach a meaning to 
these words. He had, in the meanwhile, applied 
himself assiduously to the flagon ; the plotter began 
to melt in twain, and seemed to expand and* hover 
on his seat; and with a vague sense of nightmare, 
the young man rose unsteadily to his feet, and, 
refusing the proffer of a third grog, insisted that the 
hour was late and he must positively get to bed. 

' Dear me,' observed Zero, ' I find you very tem- 
perate. But I will not be oppressive. Suffice it 

183 



THE DYNAMITER 

that we are now fast friends ; and, my dear landlord, 
cm revoir ! ' 

So saying the plotter once more shook hands ; and 
with the politest ceremonies, and some necessary 
guidance, conducted the bewildered young gentle- 
man to the top of the stair. 

Precisely how he got to bed was a point on which 
Somerset remained in utter darkness ; but the next 
morning when, at a blow, he started broad awake, 
there fell upon his mind a perfect hurricane of horror 
and wonder. That he should have suffered himself 
to be led into the semblance of intimacy with such a 
man as his abominable lodger, appeared, in the cold 
light of day, a mystery of human weakness. True, 
he was caught in a situation that might have tested 
the aplomb of Talleyrand. That was perhaps a pal- 
liation ; but it was no excuse. For so wholesale a 
capitulation of principle, for such a fall into criminal 
familiarity, no excuse indeed was possible ; nor any 
remedy, but to withdraw at once from the relation. 

As soon as he was dressed, he hurried upstairs, 
determined on a rupture. Zero hailed him with the 
warmth of an old friend. 

' Come in,' he cried, ' dear Mr. Somerset ! Come 
in, sit down, and, without ceremony, join me at my 
morning meal.' 

' Sir,' said Somerset, ' you must permit me first to 
disengage my honour. Last night, I was surprised 
into a certain appearance of complicity ; but once for 
all, let me inform you that I regard you and your 
machinations with unmingled horror and disgust, and 
184 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

I will leave no stone unturned to crush your vile 
conspiracy.' 

' My dear fellow,' replied Zero, with an air of some 
complacency, ' I am well accustomed to these human 
weaknesses. Disgust? I have felt it myself; it 
speedily wears off. I think none the worse, I think 
the more of you, for this engaging frankness. And 
in the meanwhile, what are you to do ? You find 
yourself, if I interpret rightly, in very much the same 
situation as Charles the Second (possibly the least 
degraded of your British sovereigns) when he was 
taken into the confidence of the thief. To denounce 
me is out of the question ; and what else can you 
attempt ? No, dear Mr. Somerset, your hands are 
tied ; and you find yourself condemned, under pain 
of behaving like a cad, to be that same charming and 
intellectual companion who delighted me last night.' 

' At least,' cried Somerset, ' I can, and do, order 
you to leave this house.' 

* Ah ! ' cried the plotter, * but there I fail to follow 
you. You may, if you please, enact the part of 
Judas ; but if, as I suppose, you recoil from that 
extremity of meanness, I am, on my side, far too 
intelligent to leave these lodgings, in which I please 
myself exceedingly, and from which you lack the 
power to drive me. No, no, dear sir ; here I am, and 
here I propose to stay.' 

' I repeat,' cried Somerset, beside himself with a 
sense of his own weakness, ' I repeat that I give you 
warning. I am the master of this house ; and I 
emphatically give you warning.' 

185 



THE DYNAMITER 

' A week's warning ? ' said the imperturbable con- 
spirator. ' Very well : we will talk of it a week from 
now. That is arranged ; and in the meanwhile, I 
observe my breakfast growing cold. Do, dear Mr. 
Somerset, since you find yourself condemned, for a 
week at least, to the society of a very interesting 
character, display some of that open favour, some of 
that interest in life's obscurer sides, which stamp the 
character of the true artist. Hang me, if you will, 
to-morrow ; but to-day show yourself divested of the 
scruples of the burgess, and sit down pleasantly to 
share my meal.' 

' Man ! ' cried Somerset, ' do you understand my 
sentiments ? ' 

' Certainly,' replied Zero ; ' and I respect them ! 
Would you be outdone in such a contest ? will you 
alone be partial ? and in this nineteenth century, 
cannot two gentlemen of education agree to differ on 
a point of politics ? Come, sir : all your hard words 
have left me smiling ; judge then, which of us is the 
philosopher!' 

Somerset was a young man of a very tolerant dis- 
position and by nature easily amenable to sophistry. 
He threw up his hands with a gesture of despair, 
and took the seat to which the conspirator invited 
him. The meal was excellent; the host not only 
affable, but primed with curious information. He 
seemed, indeed, like one who had too long endured 
the torture of silence, to exult in the most wholesale 
disclosures. The interest of what he had to tell was 
great ; his character, besides, developed step by step ; 
186 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

and Somerset, as the time fled, not only outgrew 
some of the discomfort of his false position, but 
began to regard the conspirator with a familiarity 
that verged upon contempt. In any circumstances, 
he had a singular inability to leave the society in 
which he found himself; company, even if distaste- 
ful, held him captive like a limed sparrow ; and on 
this occasion, he suffered hour to follow hour, was 
easily persuaded to sit down once more to table, and 
did not even attempt to withdraw till, on the approach 
of evening, Zero, with many apologies, dismissed his 
guest. His fellow-conspirators, the dynamiter hand- 
somely explained, as they were unacquainted with 
the sterling qualities of the young man, would be 
alarmed at the sight of a strange face. 

As soon as he was alone, Somerset fell back upon 
the humour of the morning. He raged at the thought 
of his facility ; he paced the dining-room, forming 
the sternest resolutions for the future ; he wrung the 
hand which had been dishonoured by the touch of an 
assassin ; and among all these whirling thoughts, 
there flashed in from time to time, and ever with a 
chill of fear, the thought of the confounded ingre- 
dients with which the house was stored. A powder 
magazine seemed a secure smoking-room alongside 
of the Superfluous Mansion. 

He sought refuge in flight, in locomotion, in the 
flowing bowl. As long as the bars were open, he 
travelled from one to another, seeking light, safety, 
and the companionship of human faces ; when these 
resources failed him, he fell back on the belated 

187 



THE DYNAMITER 

baked-potato man ; and at length, still pacing the 
streets, he was goaded to fraternise with the police. 
Alas, with what a sense of guilt he conversed with 
these guardians of the law ; how gladly had he wept 
upon their ample bosoms ; and how the secret flut- 
tered to his lips and was still denied an exit ! Fatigue 
began at last to triumph over remorse; and about 
the hour of the first milkman, he returned to the 
door of the mansion ; looked at it with a horrid 
expectation, as though it should have burst that in- 
stant into flames ; drew out his key, and when his foot 
already rested on the steps, once more lost heart and 
fled for repose to the grisly shelter of a coffee-shop. 

It was on the stroke of noon when he awoke. 
Dismally searching in his pockets, he found himself 
reduced to half-a-crown ; and, when he had paid the 
price of his distasteful couch, saw himself obliged to 
return to the Superfluous Mansion. He sneaked into 
the hall and stole on tiptoe to the cupboard where 
he kept his money. Yet half a minute, he told him- 
self, and he would be free for days from his obseding 
lodger, and might decide at leisure on the course 
he should pursue. But fate had otherwise designed : 
there came a tap at the door and Zero entered. 

' Have I caught you ? ' he cried, with innocent 
gaiety. * Dear fellow, I was growing quite impatient. ' 
And on the speaker's somewhat stolid face there 
came a glow of genuine affection. ' I am so long- 
unused to have a friend,' he continued, ' that I begin 
to be afraid I may prove jealous.' And he wrung 
the hand of his landlord. 
1 88 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

Somerset was, of all men, least fit to deal with 
such a greeting. To reject these kind advances was 
beyond his strength. That he could not return cor- 
diality for cordiality was already almost more than 
he could carry. That inequality between kind sen- 
timents which, to generous characters, will always 
seem to be a sort of guilt, oppressed him to the 
ground ; and he stammered vague and lying words. 

' That is all right,' cried Zero — ' that is as it should 
be — say no more ! I had a vague alarm ; I feared 
you had deserted me ; but I now own that fear to 
have been unworthy, and apologise. To doubt of 
your forgiveness were to repeat my sin. Come, then ; 
dinner waits ; join me again and tell me your adven- 
tures of the night.' 

Kindness still sealed the lips of Somerset ; and he 
suffered himself once more to be set down to table 
with his innocent and criminal acquaintance. Once 
more the plotter plunged up to the neck in damag- 
ing disclosures : now it would be the name and 
biography of an individual, now the address of some 
important centre, that rose, as if by accident, upon 
his lips ; and each word was like another turn of the 
thumbscrew to his unhappy guest. Finally, the 
course of Zero's bland monologue led him to the 
young lady of two days ago ; that young lady, who 
had flashed on Somerset for so brief a while but 
with so conquering a charm ; and whose engaging 
grace, communicative eyes, and admirable conduct 
of the sweeping skirt remained imprinted on his 
memory. 

189 



THE DYNAMITER 

* You saw her ? ' said Zero. ' Beautiful, is she not ? 
She, too, is one of ours : a true enthusiast : nervous, 
perhaps, in presence of the chemicals ; but in matters 
of intrigue the very soul of skill and daring. Lake, 
Fonblanque, de Marly, Valdevia, such are some of 
the names that she employs ; her true name — but 
there, perhaps, I go too far. Suffice it, that it is to 
her I owe my present lodging and, dear Somerset, 
the pleasure of your acquaintance. It appears she 
knew the house. You see, dear fellow, I make no 
concealment : all that you can care to hear, I tell 
you openly.' 

' For God's sake,' cried the wretched Somerset, 
' hold your tongue ! You cannot imagine how you 
torture me ! ' 

A shade of serious discomposure crossed the open 
countenance of Zero. 

' There are times,' he said, ' when I begin to fancy 
that you do not like me. Why, why, dear Somer- 
set, this lack of cordiality ? I am depressed ; the 
touchstone of my life draws near ; and if I fail ' 
— he gloomily nodded — ' from all the height of my 
ambitious schemes, I fall, dear boy, into contempt. 
These are grave thoughts, and you may judge my 
need of your delightful company. Innocent prattler, 
you relieve the weight of my concerns. And yet 
. . . and yet . . .' The speaker pushed away his 
plate, and rose from table. 'Follow me,' said he, 
'follow me. My mood is on; I must have air, I 
must behold the plain of battle.' 

So saying, he led the way hurriedly to the top flat 
190 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

of the mansion, and thence, by ladder and trap, to a 
certain leaded platform, sheltered at one end by a 
great stalk of chimneys, and occupying the actual 
summit of the roof. On both sides, it bordered, 
without parapet or rail, on the incline of slates ; and, 
northward above all, commanded an extensive view 
of housetops and, rising through the smoke, the 
distant spires of churches. 

' Here,' cried Zero, ' you behold this field of city, 
rich, crowded, laughing with the spoil of continents ; 
but soon, how soon, to be laid low ! Some day, 
some night, from this coign of vantage, you shall 
perhaps be startled by the detonation of the judgment 
gun — not sharp and empty like the crack of cannon, 
but deep-mouthed and unctuously solemn. Instantly 
thereafter, you shall behold the flames break forth. 
Ay,' he cried, stretching forth his hand, 'ay, that 
will be a day of retribution. Then shall the pallid 
constable flee side by side with the detected thief. 
Blaze ! ' he cried, ' blaze, derided city ! Fall, flatulent 
monarchy, fall like Dagon ! ' 

With these words his foot slipped upon the lead ; 
and but for Somerset's quickness, he had been 
instantly precipitated into space. Pale as a sheet, 
and limp as a pocket-handkerchief, he was dragged 
from the edge of downfall by one arm ; helped, or 
rather carried, down the ladder; and deposited in 
safety on the attic landing. Here he began to come 
to himself, wiped his brow, and at length, seizing 
Somerset's hand in both of his, began to utter his 



acknowledgments. 



191 



THE DYNAMITED 

' This seals it,' said he. ' Ours is a life-and-death 
connection. You have plucked me from the jaws 
of death ; and if I were before attracted by your 
character, judge now of the ardour of my gratitude 
and love ! But I perceive I am still greatly shaken. 
Lend me, I beseech you, lend me your arm as far as 
my apartment.' 

A dram of spirits restored the plotter to something 
of his customary self-possession ; and he was stand- 
ing, glass in hand and genially convalescent, when 
his eye was attracted by the dejection of the unfor- 
tunate young man. 

' Good heavens, dear Somerset,' he cried, ' what 
ails you ? Let me offer you a touch of spirits.' 

But Somerset had fallen below the reach of this 
material comfort. 

' Let me be,' he said. ' I am lost ; you have 
caught me in the toils. Up to this moment, I have 
lived all my life in the most reckless manner, and 
done exactly what I pleased, with the most perfect 
innocence. And now — what am I ? Are you so 
blind and wooden that you do not see the loathing 
you inspire me with ? Is it possible you can sup- 
pose me willing to continue to exist upon such 
terms ? To think,' he cried, ' that a young man, 
guilty of no fault on earth but amiability, should 
find himself involved in such a damned imbroglio ! ' 
And, placing his knuckles in his eyes, Somerset rolled 
upon the sofa. 

' My God,' said Zero, ' is this possible ? And I so 
filled with tenderness and interest ! Can it be, dear 
192 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

Somerset, that you are under the empire of these 
outworn scruples? or that you judge a patriot by 
the morality of the religious tract ? I thought you 
were a good agnostic' 

' Mr. Jones,' said Somerset, ' it is in vain to argue. 
I boast myself a total disbeliever not only in revealed 
religion, but in the data, method, and conclusions of 
the whole of ethics. Well ! what matters it ? what 
signifies a form of words ? I regard you as a reptile, 
whom I would rejoice, whom I long, to stamp under 
my heel. You would blow up others ? Well then, 
understand : I want, with every circumstance of 
infamy and agony, to blow up you ! ' 

' Somerset, Somerset ! ' said Zero, turning very 
pale, ' this is wrong ; this is very wrong. You pain, 
you wound me, Somerset' 

' Give me a match ! ' cried Somerset wildly. ' Let 
me set fire to this incomparable monster ! Let me 
perish with him in his fall ! ' 

' For God's sake,' cried Zero, clutching hold of the 
young man, ' for God's sake command yourself ! We 
stand upon the brink ; death yawns around us ; a 
man — a stranger in this foreign land — one whom 
you have called your friend ' 

' Silence,' cried Somerset, ' you are no friend, no 
friend of mine. I look on you with loathing, like a 
toad : my flesh creeps with physical repulsion ; my 
soul revolts against the sight of you.' 

Zero burst into tears. ' Alas ! ' he sobbed, ' this 
snaps the last link that bound me to humanity. My 
friend disowns — he insults me. I am indeed accurst' 
7— n 193 



THE DYNAMITER 

Somerset stood for an instant staggered by this 
sudden change of front. The next moment, with a 
despairing gesture, he fled from the room and from 
the house. The first dash of his escape carried him 
hard upon half way to the next police-office ; but 
presently began to droop ; and before he reached 
the house of lawful intervention, he fell once more 
among doubtful counsels. Was he an agnostic ? had 
he a right to act ? Away with such nonsense, and 
let Zero perish ! ran his thoughts. And then again : 
had he not promised, had he not shaken hands and 
broken bread ? and that with open eyes ? and if so, 
how could he take action, and not forfeit honour? 
But honour ? what was honour ? A figment, which, 
in the hot pursuit of crime, he ought to dash aside. 
Ay, but crime? A figment, too, which his enfran- 
chised intellect discarded. All day, he wandered in 
the parks, a prey to whirling thoughts ; all night, 
patrolled the city ; and at the peep of day he sat 
down by the wayside in the neighbourhood of Peck- 
ham and bitterly wept. His gods had fallen. He 
who had chosen the broad, daylit, unencumbered 
paths of universal scepticism, found himself still the 
bondslave of honour. He who had accepted life 
from a point of view as lofty as the predatory eagle's, 
though with no design to prey ; he who had clearly 
recognised the common moral basis of war, of com- 
mercial competition, and of crime ; he who was 
prepared to help the escaping murderer or to embrace 
the impenitent thief, found, to the overthrow of all 
his logic, that he objected to the use of dynamite. 
194 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

The dawn crept among the sleeping villas and over 
the smokeless fields of city ; and still the unfortunate 
sceptic sobbed over his fall from consistency. 

At length he rose and took the rising sun to 
witness. 'There is no question as to fact,' he cried; 
' right and wrong are but figments and the shadow 
of a word ; but for all that, there are certain things 
that I cannot do, and there are certain others that I 
will not stand.' Thereupon he decided to return, to 
make one last effort of persuasion, and, if he could 
not prevail on Zero to desist from his infernal trade, 
throw delicacy to the winds, give the plotter an 
hour's start, and denounce him to the police. Fast 
as he went, being winged by this resolution, it was 
already well on in the morning when he came in 
sight of the Superfluous Mansion. Tripping down 
the steps, was the young lady of the various aliases ; 
and he w r as surprised to see upon her countenance 
the marks of anger and concern. 

' Madam,' he began, yielding to impulse and with 
no clear knowledge of what he was to add. 

But at the sound of his voice she seemed to 
experience a shock of fear or horror ; started back ; 
lowered her veil with a sudden movement ; and fled, 
without turning, from the square. 

Here then, we step aside a moment from following 
the fortunes of Somerset, and proceed to relate the 
strange and romantic episode of The Brown Box. 



195 



THE DYNAMITER 



DESBOROUGH'S ADVENTURE : 
THE BROWN BOX 

Mr. Harry Desborough lodged in the fine and 
grave old quarter of Bloom sbury, roared about on 
every side by the high tides of London, but itself 
rejoicing in romantic silences and city peace. It was 
in Queen Square that he had pitched his tent, next 
door to the Children's Hospital, on your left hand 
as you go north : Queen Square, sacred to humane 
and liberal arts, whence homes were made beautiful, 
where the poor were taught, where the sparrows 
were plentiful and loud, and where groups of patient 
little ones would hover all day long before the hos- 
pital, if by chance they might kiss their hand or 
speak a word to their sick brother at the window. 
Desborough 's room was on the first floor and fronted 
to the square ; but he enjoyed besides, a right by 
which he often profited, to sit and smoke upon a 
terrace at the back, which looked down upon a fine 
forest of back gardens, and was in turn commanded 
by the windows of an empty room. 

On the afternoon of a warm day, Desborough 
sauntered forth upon this terrace, somewhat out of 
196 



THE BROWN BOX 

hope and heart, for he had been now some weeks on 
the vain quest of situations, and prepared for melan- 
choly and tobacco. Here, at least, he told himself 
that he would be alone ; for, like most youths who 
are neither rich, nor witty, nor successful, he rather 
shunned than courted the society of other men. 
Even as he expressed the thought, his eye alighted 
on the window of the room that looked upon the 
terrace ; and, to his surprise and annoyance, he beheld 
it curtained with a silken hanging. It was like his 
luck, he thought ; his privacy was gone, he could no 
longer brood and sigh unwatched, he could no longer 
suffer his discouragement to find a vent in words or 
soothe himself with sentimental whistling ; and in 
the irritation of the moment, he struck his pipe upon 
the rail with unnecessary force. It was an old, sweet, 
seasoned briar-root, glossy and dark with long em- 
ployment, and justly dear to his fancy. What, 
then, was his chagrin, when the head snapped from 
the stem, leaped airily in space, and fell and dis- 
appeared among the lilacs of the garden ? 

He threw himself savagely into the garden chair, 
pulled out the story-paper which he had brought 
with him to read, tore off a fragment of the last 
sheet, which contains only the answers to corre- 
spondents, and set himself to roll a cigarette. He 
was no master of the art ; again and again, the paper 
broke between his fingers and the tobacco showered 
upon the ground ; and he was already on the point 
of angry resignation, when the window swung slowly 
inward, the silken curtain was thrust aside, and a 

197 



THE DYNAMITER 

lady somewhat strangely attired stepped forth upon 
the terrace. 

' Senorito,' said she, and there was a rich thrill in 
her voice, like an organ note, ' Sefiorito, you are in 
difficulties. Suffer me to come to your assistance.' 

With the words, she took the paper and tobacco 
from his unresisting hands ; and with a facility that, 
in Desborough's eyes, seemed magical, rolled and 
presented him a cigarette. He took it, still seated, 
still without a word ; staring with all his eyes upon 
that apparition. Her face was warm and rich in 
colour ; in shape, it was that piquant triangle, so 
innocently sly, so saucily attractive, so rare in our 
more northern climates ; her eyes were large, starry, 
and visited by changing lights ; her hair was partly 
covered by a lace mantilla, through which her arms, 
bare to the shoulder, gleamed white ; her figure, full 
and soft in all the womanly contours, was yet alive 
and active, light with excess of life, and slender by 
grace of some divine proportion. 

' You do not like my cigarrito, Senor ? ' she asked. 
' Yet it is better made than yours.' At that she 
laughed, and her laughter trilled in his ear like 
music ; but the next moment, her face fell. ' I see,' 
she cried. - It is my manner that repels you. I am 
too constrained, too cold. I am not,' she added, 
with a more engaging air, ' I am not the simple 
English maiden I appear.' 

' Oh ! ' murmured Harry, filled with inexpressible 
thoughts. 

• In my own dear land,' she pursued, ' things are 
198 



THE BROWN BOX 

differently ordered. There, I must own, a girl is 
bound by* many and rigorous restrictions ; little is 
permitted her ; she learns to be distant, she learns to 
appear forbidding. But here, in free England — oh, 
glorious liberty ! ' she cried, and threw up her arms 
with a gesture of inimitable grace — ' here there are 
no fetters ; here the woman may dare to be herself 
entirely, and the men, the chivalrous men — is it not 
written on the very shield of your nation, honi soit ? 
Ah, it is hard for me to learn, hard for me to dare to 
be myself. You must not judge me yet a while ; I 
shall end by conquering this stiffness, I shall end by 
growing English. Do I speak the language well ? ' 

' Perfectly — oh, perfectly ! ' said Harry, with a 
fervency of conviction worthy of a graver subject. 

' Ah, then/ she said, ' I shall soon learn ; English 
blood ran in my father's veins ; and I have had the 
advantage of some training in your expressive tongue. 
If I speak already without accent, with my thorough 
English appearance, there is nothing left to change 
except my manners.' 

' Oh no,' said Desborough. ' Oh, pray not ! I — 
madam ' 

* I am,' interrupted the lady, 'the Sefiorita Teresa 
Valdevia. The evening air grows chill. Adios, 
Senorito.' And before Harry could stammer out a 
word, she had disappeared into her room. 

He stood transfixed, the cigarette still unlighted 
in his hand. His thoughts had soared above tobacco, 
and still recalled and beautified the image of his new 
acquaintance. Her voice re-echoed in his memory ; 

199 



THE DYNAMITER 

her eyes, of which he could not tell the colour, 
haunted his soul. The clouds had risen at her 
coming, and he beheld a new-created world. What 
she was, he could not fancy, but he adored her. 
Her age, he durst not estimate ; fearing to find her 
older than himself, and thinking sacrilege to couple 
that fair favour with the thought of mortal changes. 
As for her character, beauty, to the young, is always 
good. So the poor lad lingered late upon the ter- 
race, stealing timid glances at the curtained window, 
sighing to the gold laburnums, rapt into the country 
of romance ; and when at length he entered and sat 
down to dine, on cold boiled mutton and a pint of 
ale, he feasted on the food of gods. 

Next day when he returned to the terrace, the 
window was a little ajar and he enjoyed a view of the 
lady's shoulder, as she sat patiently sewing and all 
unconscious of his presence. On the next, he had 
scarce appeared when the window opened, and the 
Senorita tripped forth into the sunlight, in a morning 
disorder, delicately neat, and yet somehow foreign, 
tropical, and strange. In one hand she held a packet. 

'Will you try,' she said, 'some of my father's 
tobacco— from dear Cuba ? There, as I suppose you 
know, all smoke, ladies as well as gentlemen. So 
you need not fear to annoy me. The fragrance will 
remind me of home. My home, Seilor, was by the 
sea.' And as she uttered these few words, Des- 
borough, for the first time in his life, realised the 
poetry of the great deep. ' Awake or asleep, I dream 
of it ; dear home, dear Cuba ! ' 
200 



THE BROWN BOX 

' But some day,' said Desborough, with an inward 
pang, ' some day you will return ? ' 

' Never ! ' she cried ; * ah, never, in Heaven's 
name ! ' 

' Are you then resident for life in England ? ' he 
inquired, with a strange lightening of spirit. 

'You ask too much, for you ask more than I 
know,' she answered sadly ; and then, resuming her 
gaiety of manner : ' But you have not tried my 
Cuban tobacco,' she said. 

' Seiiorita,' said he, shyly abashed by some shadow 
of coquetry in her manner, ' whatever comes to me 
— you — I mean,' he concluded, deeply flushing, ' that 
I have no doubt the tobacco is delightful.' 

'Ah, Seilor,' she said, with almost mournful 
gravity, ' you seemed so simple and good, and already 
you are trying to pay compliments — and besides,' 
she added, brightening, with a quick upward glance, 
into a smile, ' you do it so badly ! English gentle- 
men, I used to hear, could be fast friends, respectful, 
honest friends ; could be companions, comforters, if 
the need arose, or champions, and yet never encroach. 
Do not seek to please me by copying the graces of 
my countrymen. Be yourself: the frank, kindly, 
honest English gentleman that I have heard of since 
my childhood and still longed to meet. ' 

Harry, much bewildered, and far from clear as to 
the manners of the Cuban gentleman, strenuously 
disclaimed the thought of plagiarism. 

' Your national seriousness of bearing best becomes 
you, Senor,' said the lady. ' See ! ' marking a line 

201 



THE DYNAMITER 

with her dainty, slippered foot, '. thus far it shall be 
common ground ; there, at my window-sill, begins 
the scientific frontier. If you choose, you may drive 
me to my forts ; but if, on the other hand, we are to 
be real English friends, I may join you here when I 
am not too sad ; or, when I am yet more graciously 
inclined, you may draw your chair beside the window 
and teach me English customs, while I work. You 
will find me an apt scholar, for my heart is in the 
task.' She laid her hand lightly upon Harry's arm, 
and looked into his eyes. ' Do you know,' said she, 
'I am emboldened to believe that I have already 
caught something of your English aplomb ? Do you 
not perceive a change, Senor ? Slight, perhaps, but 
still a change ? Is my deportment not more open, 
more free, more like that of the dear " British Miss," 
than when you saw me first ? ' She gave a radiant 
smile ; withdrew her hand from Harry's arm ; and 
before the young man could formulate in words the 
eloquent emotions that ran riot through his brain — 
with an 'Adios, Senor: good-night, my English 
friend,' she vanished from his sight behind the 
curtain. 

The next day, Harry consumed an ounce of tobacco 
in vain upon the neutral terrace ; neither sight nor 
sound rewarded him, and the dinner-hour summoned 
him at length from the scene of disappointment. On 
the next, it rained ; but nothing, neither business 
nor weather, neither prospective poverty nor present 
hardship, could now divert the young man from the 
service of his lady ; and wrapt in a long ulster, with 
202 



THE BROWN BOX 

the collar raised, he took his stand against the balus- 
trade, awaiting fortune, the picture of damp and 
discomfort to the eye, but glowing inwardly with 
tender and delightful ardours. Presently the window 
opened ; and the fair Cuban, with a smile imperfectly 
dissembled, appeared upon the sill. 

'Come here,' she said, 'here, beside my window. 
The small verandah gives a belt of shelter.' And 
she graciously handed him a folding-chair. 

As he sat down, visibly aglow with shyness and 
delight, a certain bulkiness in his pocket reminded 
him that he was not come empty-handed. 

" I have taken the liberty,' said he, ' of bringing 
you a little book. I thought of you, when I observed 
it on the stall, because I saw it was in Spanish. The 
man assured me it was by one of the best authors, 
and quite proper.' As he spoke, he placed the little 
volume in her hand. Her eyes fell as she turned the 
pages, and a flush rose and died again upon her 
cheeks, as deep as it was fleeting. ' You are angry,' 
he cried in agony. ' I have presumed.' 

' No, Senor, it is not that,' returned the lady. ' I ' 
— and a flood of colour once more mounted to her 
brow — ' I am confused and ashamed because I have 
deceived you. Spanish,' she began, and paused — 
' Spanish is of course my native tongue,' she resumed, 
as though suddenly taking courage ; ' and this should 
certainly put the highest value on your thoughtful 
present ; but alas, sir, of what use is it to me ? And 
how shall I confess to you the truth — the humiliating 
truth — that I cannot read ? ' 

203 



THE DYNAMITER 

As Harry's eyes met hers in undisguised amaze- 
ment, the fair Cuban seemed to shrink before his 
gaze. * Read ? ' repeated Harry. ' You ! ' 

She pushed the window still more widely open 
with a large and noble gesture. ' Enter, Senor,' said 
she. 'The time has come to which I have long 
looked forward, not without alarm; when I must 
either fear to lose your friendship, or tell you without 
disguise the story of my life.' 

It was with a sentiment bordering on devotion 
that Harry passed the window. A semi-barbarous 
delight in form and colour had presided over the 
studied disorder of the room in which he found him- 
self. It was filled with dainty stuffs, furs and rugs 
and scarves of brilliant hues, and set with elegant 
and curious trifles — fans on the mantelshelf, an 
antique lamp upon a bracket, and on the table a 
silver-mounted bowl of cocoa-nut about half full of 
unset jewels. The fair Cuban, herself a gem of 
colour and the fit masterpiece for that rich frame, 
motioned Harry to a seat, and, sinking herself into 
another, thus began her history. 



STORY OF THE FAIR CUBAN 

I am not what I seem. My father drew his descent, 
on the one hand, from grandees of Spain, and on the 
other, through the maternal line, from the patriot 
Bruce. My mother, too, was the descendant of a 
line of kings ; but, alas ! these kings were African. 
204 



STORY OF THE FAIR CUBAN 

She was fair as the day : fairer than I, for I in- 
herited a darker strain of blood from the veins of my 
European father ; her mind was noble, her manners 
queenly and accomplished; and, seeing her more than 
the equal of her neighbours and surrounded by the 
most considerate affection and respect, I grew up to 
adore her, and when the time came, received her last 
sigh upon my lips, still ignorant that she was a slave 
and alas ! my father's mistress. Her death, which 
befell me in my sixteenth year, was the first sorrow 
I had known : it left our home bereaved of its attrac- 
tions, cast a shade of melancholy on my youth, and 
wrought in my father a tragic and durable change. 
Months went by : with the elasticity of my years, I 
regained some of the simple mirth that had before 
distinguished me ; the plantation smiled with fresh 
crops ; the negroes on the estate had already for- 
gotten my mother and transferred their simple obedi- 
ence to myself; but still the cloud only darkened 
on the brows of Senor Valdevia. His absences from 
home had been frequent even in the old days, for he 
did business in precious gems in the city of Havana ; 
they now became almost continuous ; and when he 
returned, it was but for the night and with the 
manner of a man crushed down by adverse fortune. 

The place where I was born and passed my days 
was an isle set in the Caribbean Sea, some half- 
hour's rowing from the coasts of Cuba. It was 
steep, rugged, and, except for my father's family 
and plantation, uninhabited and left to nature. The 
house, a low building surrounded by spacious veran- 

205 



THE DYNAMITER 

dahs, stood upon a rise of ground and looked across 
the sea to Cuba, the breezes blew about it gratefully, 
fanned us as we lay swinging in our silken ham- 
mocks, and tossed the boughs and flowers of the 
magnolia. Behind and to the left, the quarter of 
the negroes and the waving fields of the plantation 
covered an eighth part of the surface of the isle. 
On the right and closely bordering on the garden, 
lay a vast and deadly swamp, densely covered with 
wood, breathing fever, dotted with profound sloughs, 
and inhabited by poisonous oysters, man-eating crabs, 
snakes, alligators, and sickly fishes. Into the re- 
cesses of that jungle none could penetrate but those 
of African descent ; an invisible, unconquerable foe 
lay there in wait for the European ; and the air was 
death. 

One morning (from which I must date the be- 
ginning of my ruinous misfortune) I left my room a 
little after day, for in that warm climate all are early 
risers, and found not a servant to attend upon my 
wants. I made the circuit of the house, still calling : 
and my surprise had almost changed into alarm, 
when, coming at last into a large verandahed court, 
I found it thronged with negroes. Even then, even 
when I was amongst them, not one turned or paid 
the least regard to my arrival. They had eyes and 
ears for but one person : a woman, richly and taste- 
fully attired ; of elegant carriage, and a musical 
speech ; not so much old in years, as worn and 
marred by self-indulgence ; her face, which was still 
attractive, stamped with the most cruel passions, her 
206 



STORY OF THE FAIR CUBAN 

eye burning with the greed of evil. It was not from 
her appearance, I believe, but from some emanation 
of her soul, that I recoiled in a kind of fainting 
terror ; as we hear of plants that blight and snakes 
that fascinate, the woman shocked and daunted me. 
But I was of a brave nature ; trod the weakness 
down ; and forcing my way through the slaves, who 
fell back before me in embarrassment, as though in 
the presence of rival mistresses, I asked, in imperious 
tones : ' Who is this person ? ' 

A slave girl, to whom I had been kind, whispered 
in my ear to have a care, for that was Madam 
Mendizabal ; but the name was new to me. 

In the meanwhile the woman, applying a pair of 
glasses to her eyes, studied me with insolent particu- 
larity from head to foot. 

'Young woman,' said she at last, 'I have had a 
great experience in refractory servants, and take a 
pride in breaking them. You really tempt me ; and 
if I had not other affairs, and these of more import- 
ance, on my hand, I should certainly buy you at 
your father's sale.' 

' Madam ' I began, but my voice failed me. 

'Is it possible that you do not know your posi- 
tion ? ' she returned, with a hateful laugh. ' How 
comical ! Positively, I must buy her. Accom- 
plishments, I suppose?' she added, turning to the 
servants. 

Several assured her that the young mistress had 
been brought up like any lady, for so it seemed in 
their inexperience. 

207 



THE DYNAMITER 

' She would do very well for my place of business 
in Havana,' said the Senora Mendizabal, once more 
studying me through her glasses ; ' and I should take 
a pleasure,' she pursued, more directly addressing 
myself, 'in bringing you acquainted with a whip.' 
And she smiled at me with a savoury lust of cruelty 
upon her face. 

At this, I found expression. Calling by name 
upon the servants, I bade them turn this woman 
from the house, fetch her to the boat, and set her 
back upon the mainland. But with one voice they 
protested that they durst not obey, coming close 
about me, pleading and beseeching me to be more 
wise; and when I insisted, rising higher in passion 
and speaking of this foul intruder in the terms she 
had deserved, they fell back from me as from one who 
had blasphemed. A superstitious reverence plainly 
encircled the stranger; I could read it in their 
changed demeanour, and in the paleness that pre- 
vailed upon the natural colour of their faces; and 
their fear perhaps reacted on myself. I looked again 
at Madam Mendizabal. She stood perfectly com- 
posed, watching my face through her glasses with a 
smile of scorn ; and at the sight of her assured 
superiority to all my threats, a cry broke from my 
lips, a cry of rage, fear, and despair, and I fled from 
the verandah and the house. 

I ran I knew not where, but it was towards the 

beach. As I went, my head whirled ; so strange, so 

sudden, were these events and insults. Who was 

she ? what, in Heaven's name, the power she wielded 

208 



STORY OF THE FAIR CUBAN 

over my obedient negroes ? Why had she addressed 
me as a slave ? why spoken of my father's sale ? 
To all these tumultuary questions I could find no 
answer; and, in the turmoil of my mind, nothing 
was plain except the hateful, leering image of the 
woman. 

I was still running, mad with fear and anger, 
when I saw my father coming to meet me from the 
landing-place ; and, with a cry that I thought would 
have killed me, leaped into his arms and broke into 
a passion of sobs and tears upon his bosom. He 
made me sit down below a tall palmetto that grew 
not far off; comforted me, but with some abstraction 
in his voice; and, as soon as I regained the least 
command upon my feelings, asked me, not without 
harshness, what this grief betokened. I was sur- 
prised by his tone into a still greater measure of 
composure; and in firm tones, though still inter- 
rupted by sobs, I told him there was a stranger in 
the island, at which I thought he started and turned 
pale ; that the servants would not obey me ; that 
the stranger's name was Madam Mendizabal, and, at 
that, he seemed to me both troubled and relieved ; 
that she had insulted me, treated me as a slave (and 
here my father's brow began to darken), threatened 
to buy me at a sale, and questioned my own servants 
before my face ; and that, at last, finding myself 
quite helpless and exposed to these intolerable 
liberties, I had fled from the house in terror, indigna- 
tion, and amazement. 

' Teresa,' said my father, with singular gravity of 
7 — o 209 



THE DYNAMITER 

voice, 'I must make to-day a call upon your courage ; 
much must be told you, there is much that you must 
do to help me ; and my daughter must prove herself 
a woman by her spirit. As for this Mendizabal, 
what shall I say ? or how am I to tell you what she 
is ? Twenty years ago, she was the loveliest of 
slaves ; to-day she is what you see her — prematurely 
old, disgraced by the practice of every vice and 
every nefarious industry, but free, rich, married, they 
say, to some reputable man, whom may Heaven 
assist ! and exercising among her ancient mates, the 
slaves of Cuba, an influence as unbounded as its 
reason is mysterious. Horrible rites, it is supposed, 
cement her empire : the rites of Hoodoo. Be that 
as it may, I would have you dismiss the thought of 
this incomparable witch ; it is not from her that 
danger threatens us ; and into her hands, I make 
bold to promise, you shall never fall.' 

* Father ! ' I cried. * Fall ? Was there any truth, 
then, in her words ? Am I — O father, tell me 
plain ; I can bear anything but this suspense.' 

* I will tell you,' he replied, ' with merciful blunt- 
ness. Your mother was a slave ; it was my design, 
so soon as I had saved a competence, to sail to the 
free land of Britain, where the law would suffer me 
to marry her : a design too long procrastinated ; for 
death, at the last moment, intervened. You will 
now understand the heaviness with which your 
mother's memory hangs about my neck.' 

I cried out aloud, in pity for my parents ; and, in 
seeking to console the survivor, I forgot myself. 
210 



STORY OF THE FAIR CUBAN 

'It matters not,' resumed my father. 'What I 
have left undone can never be repaired, and I must 
bear the penalty of my remorse. But, Teresa, with 
so cutting a reminder of the evils of delay, I set 
myself at once to do what was still possible : to 
liberate yourself.' 

I began to break forth in thanks, but he checked 
me with a sombre roughness. 

'Your mother's illness,' he resumed, 'had engaged 
too great a portion of my time ; my business in the 
city had lain too long at the mercy of ignorant 
underlings ; my head, my taste, my unequalled 
knowledge of the more precious stones, that art by 
which I can distinguish, even on the darkest night, 
a sapphire from a ruby and tell at a glance in what 
quarter of the earth a gem was disinterred — all these 
had been too long absent from the conduct of affairs. 
Teresa, I was insolvent.' 

' What matters that ? ' I cried, ' What matters 
poverty, if we be left together with our love and 
sacred memories ? ' 

'You do not comprehend,' he said gloomily. 
' Slave as you are, young — alas ! scarce more than 
child ! — accomplished, beautiful with the most touch- 
ing beauty, innocent as an angel — all these qualities 
that should disarm the very wolves and crocodiles, 
are, in the eyes of those to whom I stand indebted, 
commodities to buy and sell. . You are a chattel ; 
a marketable thing; and worth — heavens, that I 
should say such words ! — worth money. Do you 
begin to see? If I were to give you freedom, I 

211 



THE DYNAMITER 

should defraud my creditors ; the manumission 
would be certainly annulled ; you would be still a 
slave, and I a criminal.' 

I caught his hand in mine, kissed it, and moaned 
in pity for myself, in sympathy for my father. 

' How I have toiled,' he continued, * how I have 
dared and striven to repair my losses, Heaven has 
beheld and will remember. Its blessing was denied 
to my endeavours, or, as I please myself by think- 
ing, but delayed to descend upon my daughter's 
head. At length, all hope was at an end ; I was 
ruined beyond retrieve ; a heavy debt fell due upon 
the morrow, which I could not meet; I should be 
declared a bankrupt, and my goods, my lands, my 
jewels that I so much loved, my slaves whom I 
have spoiled and rendered happy, and oh ! tenfold 
worse, you, my beloved daughter, would be sold 
and pass into the hands of ignorant and greedy 
traffickers. Too long, I saw, had 1 accepted and 
profited by this great crime of slavery ; but was my 
daughter, my innocent, unsullied daughter, was she 
to pay the price ? I cried out — no ! — I took Heaven 
to witness my temptation ; I caught up this bag 
and fled. Close upon my track are the pursuers ; 
perhaps to-night, perhaps to-morrow, they will land 
upon this isle, sacred to the memory of the dear 
soul that bore you, to consign your father to an 
ignominious prison, and yourself to slavery and dis- 
honour. We have not many hours before us. Off 
the north coast of our isle, by strange good fortune, 
an English yacht has for some days been hovering. 

212 



STORY OF THE FAIR CUBAN 

It belongs to Sir George Greville, whom I slightly 
know, to whom ere now I have rendered un- 
usual services, and who will not refuse to help in 
our escape. Or if he did, if his gratitude were in 
default, I have the power to force him. For what 
does it mean, my child — what means this English- 
man, who hangs for years upon the shores of Cuba, 
and returns from every trip with new and valuable 
gems ? ' 

' He may have found a mine,' I hazarded. 

* So he declares,' returned my father ; ' but the 
strange gift I have received from nature easily 
transpierced the fable. He brought me diamonds 
only, which I bought, at first, in innocence ; at a 
second glance, I started ; for of these stones, my 
child, some had first seen the day in Africa, some 
in Brazil ; while others, from their peculiar water 
and rude workmanship, I divined to be the spoil of 
ancient temples. Thus put upon the scent, I made 
inquiries : Oh, he is cunning, but I was cunninger 
than he. He visited, I found, the shop of every 
jeweller in town ; to one he came with rubies, to 
one with emeralds, to one with precious beryl ; to all, 
with this same story of the mine. But in what 
mine, what rich epitome of the earth's surface, were 
there conjoined the rubies of Ispahan, the pearls of 
Coromandel, and the diamonds of Golconda ? No, 
child, that man, for all his yacht and title, that man 
must fear and must obey me. To-night, then, as 
soon as it is dark, we must take our way through 
the swamp by the path which I shall presently show 

213 



THE DYNAMITER 

you ; thence, across the highlands of the isle, a track 
is blazed, which shall conduct us to the haven on 
the north ; and close by the yacht is riding. Should 
my pursuers come before the hour at which I look 
to see them, they will still arrive too late ; a trusty 
man attends on the mainland ; as soon as they 
appear, we shall behold, if it be dark, the redness 
of a fire — if it be day, a pillar of smoke, on the oppos- 
ing headland ; and thus warned, we shall have time 
to put the swamp between ourselves and danger. 
Meantime, I would conceal this bag; I would, 
before all things, be seen to arrive at the house with 
empty hands ; a blabbing slave might else undo us. 
For see ! ' he added ; and holding up the bag, which 
he had already shown me, he poured into my lap a 
shower of unmounted jewels, brighter than flowers, 
of every size and colour, and catching, as they fell, 
upon a million dainty facets, the ardour of the sun. 

I could not restrain a cry of admiration. 

i Even in your ignorant eyes,' pursued my father, 
* they command respect. Yet what are they but 
pebbles, passive to the tool, cold as death? In- 
grate ! ' he cried. ' Each one of these — miracles of 
nature's patience, conceived out of the dust in 
centuries of microscopical activity, each one is, for 
you and me, a year of life, liberty, and mutual 
affection. How, then, should I cherish them ! and 
why do I delay to place them beyond reach ! Teresa, 
follow me.' 

He rose to his feet, and led me to the borders of 
the great jungle, where they overhung, in a wall of 
214 



STORY OF THE FAIR CUBAN 

poisonous and dusky foliage, the declivity of the 
hill on which my father's house stood planted. For 
some while he skirted, with attentive eyes, the 
margin of the thicket. Then, seeming to recognise 
some mark, for his countenance became immedi- 
ately lightened of a load of thought, he paused and 
addressed me. * Here,' said he, ' is the entrance of 
the secret path that I have mentioned, and here 
you shall await me. I but pass some hundreds of 
yards into the swamp to bury my poor treasure ; 
as soon as that is safe, I will return.' It was in vain 
that I sought to dissuade him, urging the dangers 
of the place ; in vain that I begged to be allowed 
to follow, pleading the black blood that I now knew 
to circulate in my veins : to all my appeals he 
turned a deaf ear, and, bending back a portion of 
the screen of bushes, disappeared into the pestilential 
silence of the swamp. 

At the end of a full hour, the bushes were once 
more thrust aside ; and my father stepped from out 
the thicket, and paused, and almost staggered in 
the first shock of the blinding sunlight. His face 
was of a singular dusky red ; and yet, for all the 
heat of the tropical noon, he did not seem to sweat. 

'You are tired,' I cried, springing to meet him. 
1 You are ill.' 

4 1 am tired,' he replied ; ' the air in that jungle 
stifles one ; my eyes, besides, have grown accustomed 
to its gloom, and the strong sunshine pierces them 
like knives. A moment, Teresa, give me but a 
moment. All shall yet be well. I have buried the 

215 



THE DYNAMITER 

hoard under a cypress, immediately beyond the 
bayou, on the left-hand margin of the path ; beauti- 
ful, bright things, they now lie whelmed in slime ; 
you shall find them there, if needful. But come, 
let us to the house ; it is time to eat against our 
journey of the night : to eat and then to sleep, my 
poor Teresa : then to sleep.' And he looked upon 
me out of bloodshot eyes, shaking his head as if 
in pity. 

We went hurriedly, for he kept murmuring that 
he had been gone too long and that the servants 
might suspect ; passed through the airy stretch of 
the verandah ; and came at length into the grateful 
twilight of the shuttered house. The meal was 
spread ; the house servants, already informed by the 
boatmen of the master's return, were all back at 
their posts, and terrified, as I could see, to face me. 
My father still murmuring of haste with weary and 
feverish pertinacity, I hurried at once to take my 
place at table ; but I had no sooner left his arm 
than he paused and thrust forth both his hands with 
a strange gesture of groping. ' How is this ? ' he 
cried, in a sharp, unhuman voice. ' Am I blind ? ' 
I ran to him and tried to lead him to the table ; 
but he resisted and stood stiffly where he was, 
opening and shutting his jaws, as if in a painful 
effort after breath. Then suddenly he raised both 
hands to his temples, cried out, 'My head, my 
head ! ' and reeled and fell against the wall. 

I knew too well what it must be. I turned and 
begged the servants to relieve him. But they, with 
216 



STORY OF THE FAIR CUBAN 

one accord, denied the possibility of hope; the 
master had gone into the swamp, they said, the 
master must die ; all help was idle. Why should I 
dwell upon his sufferings ? I had him carried to a 
bed, and watched beside him. He lay still, and at 
times ground his teeth, and talked at times un- 
intelligibly, only that one word of hurry, hurry, 
coming distinctly to my ears, and telling me that, 
even in the last struggle with the powers of death, 
his mind was still tortured by his daughter's peril. 
The sun had gone down, the darkness had fallen, 
when I perceived that I was alone on this unhappy 
earth. What thought had I of flight, of safety, of 
the impending dangers of my situation ? Beside the 
body of my last friend, I had forgotten all except 
the natural pangs of my bereavement. 

The sun was some four hours above the eastern 
line when I was recalled to a knowledge of the 
things of earth by the entrance of the slave-girl to 
whom I have already referred. The poor soul was 
indeed devotedly attached to me ; and it was with 
streaming tears that she broke to me the import of 
her coming. With the first light of dawn a boat 
had reached our landing-place, and set on shore 
upon our isle (till now so fortunate) a party of 
officers bearing a warrant to arrest my father's 
person, and a man of a gross body and low manners, 
who declared the island, the plantation, and all its 
human chattels, to be now his own. <I think,' said 
my slave-girl, ' he must be a politician or some very 
powerful sorcerer; for Madam Mendizabal had no 

217 



THE DYNAMITER 

sooner seen them coming than she took to the 
woods.' 

' Fool,' said I, ' it was the officers she feared ; and 
at any rate why does that beldam still dare to 
pollute the island with her presence? And oh, 
Cora,' I exclaimed, remembering my grief, * what 
matter all these troubles to an orphan ? ' 

* Mistress,' said she, * I must remind you of two 
things. Never speak as you do now of Madam 
Mendizabal ; or never to a person of colour ; for 
she is the most powerful woman in this world, and 
her real name even, if one durst pronounce it, were 
a spell to raise the dead. And whatever you do, 
speak no more of her to your unhappy Cora ; for 
though it is possible she may be afraid of the police 
(and indeed I think that I have heard she is in 
hiding), and though I know that you will laugh 
and not believe; yet it is true, and proved, and 
known that she hears every word that people utter 
in this whole, vast world ; and your poor Cora is 
already deep enough in her black books. She looks 
at me, mistress, till my blood turns ice. That is 
the first I had to say ; and now for the second : 
do, pray, for Heaven's sake, bear in mind that you 
are no longer the poor Senor's daughter. He is 
gone, dear gentleman ; and now you are no more 
than a common slave-girl like myself. The man 
to whom you belong calls for you ; oh, my dear 
mistress, go at once ! With your youth and beauty, 
you may still, if you are winning and obedient, 
secure yourself an easy life.' 
218 



STORY OF THE FAIR CUBAN 

For a moment I looked on the creature with the 
indignation you may conceive ; the next, it was 
gone : she did but speak after her kind, as the bird 
sings or cattle bellow. ' Go,' said I. ' Go, Cora. 
I thank you for your kind intentions. Leave me 
alone one moment with my dead father; and tell 
this man that I will come at once.' 

She went ; and I, turning to the bed of death, 
addressed to those deaf ears the last appeal and 
defence of my beleaguered innocence. 'Father,' I 
said, 'it was your last thought, even in the pangs 
of dissolution, that your daughter should escape 
disgrace. Here, at your side, I swear to you that 
purpose shall be carried out; by what means, I 
know not ; by crime, if need be ; and Heaven for- 
give both you and me and our oppressors, and 
Heaven help my helplessness!' Thereupon I felt 
strengthened as by long repose ; stepped to the 
mirror, ay, even in that chamber of the dead ; hastily 
arranged my hair, refreshed my tear- worn eyes, 
breathed a dumb farewell to the originator of my 
days and sorrows ; and, composing my features to a 
smile, went forth to meet my master. 

He was in a great, hot bustle, reviewing that 
house, once ours, to which he had but now suc- 
ceeded; a corpulent, sanguine man of middle age, 
sensual, vulgar, humorous, and, if I judged rightly, 
not ill-disposed by nature. But the sparkle that 
came into his eye as he observed me enter warned 
me to expect the worst. 

' Is this your late mistress ? ' he inquired of the 

219 



THE DYNAMITER 

slaves ; and, when he had learnt it was so, instantly 
dismissed them. ' Now, my dear,' said he, ' I am a 
plain man : none of your damned Spaniards, but a 
true blue, hardworking, honest Englishman. My 
name is Caulder.' 

* Thank you, sir,' said I, and curtsied very smartly 
as I had seen the servants. 

' Come,' said he, * this is better than I had ex- 
pected ; and if you choose to be dutiful in the 
station to which it has pleased God to call you, you 
will find me a very kind old fellow. I like your 
looks,' he added, calling me by my name, which he 
scandalously mispronounced. ' Is your hair all your 
own?' he then inquired, with a certain sharpness, 
and coming up to me, as though I were a horse, he 
grossly satisfied his doubts. I was all one flame from 
head to foot, but I contained my righteous anger 
and submitted. ' That is very well,' he continued, 
chucking me good-humouredly under the chin. ' You 
will have no cause to regret coming to old Caulder, 
eh ? But that is by the way. What is more to the 
point is this : your late master was a most dishonest 
rogue and levanted with some valuable property 
that belonged of rights to me. Now, considering 
your relation to him, I regard you as the likeliest 
person to know what has become of it ; and I warn 
you, before you answer, that my whole future kind- 
ness will depend upon your honesty. I am an honest 
man myself, and expect the same in my servants.' 

' Do you mean the jewels ? ' said I, sinking my 
voice into a whisper. 
220 



STORY OF THE FAIR CUBAN 

' That is just precisely what I do,' said he, and 
chuckled. 

< Hush ! ' said I. 

' Hush ? ' he repeated. 4 And why hush ? I am 
on my own place, I would have you to know, and 
surrounded by my own lawful servants.' 

* Are the officers gone ? ' I asked ; and oh ! how 
my hopes hung upon the answer ! 

* They are,' said he, looking somewhat discon- 
certed. ' Why do you ask ? ' 

' I wish you had kept them,' I answered, solemnly 
enough, although my heart at that same moment 
leaped with exultation. 'Master, I must not con- 
ceal from you the truth. The servants on this 
estate are in a dangerous condition, and mutiny has 
long been brewing.' 

' Why,' he cried, ' I never saw a milder-looking 
lot of niggers in my life." But for all that he 
turned somewhat pale. 

' Did they tell you,' I continued, '■ that Madam 
Mendizabal is on the island ? that, since her coming, 
they obey none but her ? that if, this morning, they 
have received you with even decent civility, it was 
only by her orders — issued with what after-thought 
I leave you to consider ? ' 

* Madam Jezebel ? ' said he. ' Well, she is a 
dangerous devil ; the police are after her, besides, 
for a whole series of murders ; but after all, what 
then ? To be sure, she has a great influence with 
you coloured folk. But what in fortune's name can 
be her errand here ? ' 

221 



THE DYNAMITER 

* The jewels,' I replied. ' Ah, sir, had you seen 
that treasure, sapphire and emerald and opal, and 
the golden topaz, and rubies, red as the sunset — of 
what incalculable worth, of what unequalled beauty 
to the eye ! — had you seen it, as I have, and alas ! 
as she has — you would understand and tremble at 
your danger.' 

' She has seen them ! ' he cried, and I could see 
by his face that my audacity was justified by its 
success. 

I caught his hand in mine. ''My master,' said I, 
* I am now yours ; it is my duty, it should be my 
pleasure, to defend your interests and life. Hear 
my advice, then ; and, I conjure you, be guided by 
my prudence. Follow me privily ; let none see 
where we are going ; I will lead you to the place 
where the treasure has been buried ; that once dis- 
interred, let us make straight for the boat, escape to 
the mainland, and not return to this dangerous isle 
without the countenance of soldiers.' 

What free man in a free land would have credited 
so sudden a devotion ? But this oppressor, through 
the very arts and sophistries he had abused, to quiet 
the rebellion of his conscience and to convince him- 
self that slavery was natural, fell like a child into 
the trap I laid for him. He praised and thanked 
me ; told me I had all the qualities he valued in a 
servant ; and when he had questioned me further as 
to the nature and value of the treasure, and I had 
once more artfully inflamed his greed, bade me, with- 
out delay, proceed to carry out my plan of action. 
222 



STORY OF THE FAIR CUBAN 

From a shed in the garden I took a pick and 
shovel; and thence, by devious paths among the 
magnolias, led my master to the entrance of the 
swamp. I walked first, carrying, as I was now in 
duty bound, the tools, and glancing continually 
behind me, lest we should be spied upon and fol- 
lowed. When we were come as far as the beginning 
of the path, it flashed into my mind I had forgotten 
meat; and leaving Mr. Caulder in the shadow of 
a tree, I returned alone to the house for a basket of 
provisions. Were they for him ? I asked myself. 
And a voice within me answered, No. While we 
were <face to face, while I still saw before my eyes 
the man to whom I belonged as the hand belongs to 
the body, my indignation held me bravely up. But 
now that I was alone, I conceived a sickness at 
myself and my designs that I could scarce endure ; 
I longed to throw myself at his feet, avow my 
intended treachery, and warn him from that pesti- 
lential swamp, to which I was decoying him to die ; 
but my vow to my dead father, my duty to my 
innocent youth, prevailed upon these scruples ; and 
though my face was pale and must have reflected 
the horror that oppressed my spirits, it was with a 
firm step that I returned to the borders of the 
swamp, and with smiling lips that I bade him rise 
and follow me. 

The path on which we now entered was cut, like a 
tunnel, through the living jungle. On either hand 
and overhead, the mass of foliage was continuously 
joined ; the day sparingly filtered through the depth 

223 



THE DYNAMITER 

of superim pending wood ; and the air was hot like 
steam, and heady with vegetable odours, and lay 
like a load upon the lungs and brain. Underfoot, a 
great depth of mould received our silent footprints ; 
on each side, mimosas, as tall as a man, shrank from 
my passing skirts with a continuous hissing rustle; 
and, but for these sentient vegetables, all in that den 
of pestilence was motionless and noiseless. 

We had gone but a little way in, when Mr. Caulder 
was seized with sudden nausea, and must sit down 
a moment on the path. My heart yearned, as I 
beheld him ; and I seriously begged the doomed 
mortal to return upon his steps. What were a few 
jewels in the scales with life ? I asked. But no, he 
said; that witch Madam Jezebel would find them 
out ; he was an honest man, and would not stand to 
be defrauded, and so forth, panting the while, like a 
sick dog. Presently he got to his feet again, pro- 
testing he had conquered his uneasiness ; but as we 
again began to go forward, I saw in his changed 
countenance the first approaches of death. 

' Master,' said I, ' you look pale, deathly pale ; your 
pallor fills me with dread. Your eyes are blood- 
shot ; they are red like the rubies that we seek.' 

' Wench,' he cried, ' look before you ; look at your 
steps. I declare to Heaven, if you annoy me once 
again by looking back, I shall remind you of the 
change in your position. ' 

A little after, I observed a worm upon the ground, 
and told, in a whisper, that its touch was death. 
Presently a great green serpent, vivid as the grass 
224 



STORY OF THE FAIR CUBAN 

in spring, wound rapidly across the path ; and once 
again I paused and looked back at my companion 
with a horror in my eyes. ' The coffin snake,' said I, 
'the snake that dogs its victim like a hound.' 

But he was not to be dissuaded. ' I am an old 
traveller,' said he. ''This is a foul jungle indeed; 
but we shall soon be at an end.' 

' Ay,' said I, looking at him with a strange smile, 
' what end ? ' 

Thereupon he laughed again and again, but not 
very heartily; and then, perceiving that the path 
began to widen and grow higher, ' There ! ' said he. 
' What did I tell you ? We are past the worst. ' 

Indeed, we had now come to the bayou, which 
was in that place very narrow and bridged across 
by a fallen trunk ; but on either hand we could see 
it broaden out, under a cavern of great arms of trees 
and hanging creepers : sluggish, putrid, of a horrible 
and sickly stench, floated on by the flat heads of 
alligators, and its banks alive with scarlet crabs. 

' If we fall from that unsteady bridge,' said I, ' see, 
where the caiman lies ready to devour us ! If, by 
the least divergence from the path, we should be 
snared in a morass, see, where those myriads of scarlet 
vermin scour the border of the thicket ! Once help- 
less, how they would swarm together to the assault ! 
What could man do against a thousand of such 
mailed assailants ? And what a death were that, to 
perish alive under their claws ! ' 

'Are you mad, girl?' he cried. 'I bid you be 
silent and lead on.' 

7— p 225 



THE DYNAMITER 

Again I looked upon him, half relenting ; and at 
that he raised the stick that was in his hand and 
cruelly struck me on the face. ' Lead on ! ' he cried 
again. ' Must I be all day, catching my death in this 
vile slough, and all for a prating slave-girl ? ' 

I took the blow in silence, I took it smiling ; but 
the blood welled back upon my heart. Something, 
I know not what, fell at that moment with a dull 
plunge in the waters of the lagoon, and I told myself 
it was my pity that had fallen. 

On the farther side, to which we now hastily 
scrambled, the wood was not so dense, the web of 
creepers not so solidly convolved. It was possible, 
here and there, to mark a patch of somewhat brighter 
daylight, or to distinguish, through the lighter web 
of parasites, the proportions of some soaring tree. 
The cypress on the left stood very visibly forth, upon 
the edge of such a clearing ; the path in that place 
widened broadly ; and there was a patch of open 
ground, beset with horrible ant-heaps, thick with 
their artificers. I laid down the tools and basket by 
the cypress root, where they were instantly blackened 
over with the crawling ants ; and looked once more 
in the face of my unconscious victim. Mosquitoes 
and foul flies wove so close a veil between us that 
his features were obscured ; and the sound of their 
flight was like the turning of a mighty wheel. 

' Here,' I said, ' is the spot. I cannot dig, for I 
have not learned to use such instruments ; but, for 
your own sake, I beseech you to be swift in what 
you do.' 

226 



STORY OF THE FAIR CUBAN 

He had sunk once more upon the ground, panting 
like a fish ; and I saw rising in his face the same 
dusky flush that had mantled on my father's. ' I 
feel ill,' he gasped, 'horribly ill; the swamp turns 
around me ; the drone of these carrion flies confounds 
me. Have you not wine ? ' 

I gave him a glass, and he drank greedily. ' It is 
for you to think,' said I, 'if you should further 
persevere. The swamp has an ill name.' And at 
the word I ominously nodded. 

' Give me the pick,' said he. ' Where are the jewels 
buried ? ' 

I told him vaguely; and in the sweltering heat 
and closeness, and dim twilight of the jungle, he 
began to wield the pickaxe, swinging it overhead 
with the vigour of a healthy man. At first, there 
broke forth upon him a strong sweat, that made his 
face to shine, and in which the greedy insects settled 
thickly. 

' To sweat in such a place,' said I. ' O master, is 
this wise ? Fever is drunk in through open pores. ' 

' What do you mean ? ' he screamed, pausing with 
the pick buried in the soil. ' Do you seek to drive 
me mad ? Do you think I do not understand the 
danger that I run ? ' 

' That is all I want,' said I : ' I only wish you to 
be swift.' And then, my mind flitting to my father's 
deathbed, I began to murmur, scarce above my 
breath, the same vain repetition of words, ' Hurry, 
hurry, hurry.' 

Presently, to my surprise, the treasure-seeker took 

227 



THE DYNAMITER 

them up ; and while he still wielded the pick, but 
now with staggering and uncertain blows, repeated to 
himself, as it were the burthen of a song, ' Hurry, 
hurry, hurry ' ; and then again, ' There is no time 
to lose ; the marsh has an ill name, ill name ' ; and 
then back to ' Hurry, hurry, hurry,' with a dreadful 
mechanical, hurried, and yet wearied utterance, as 
a sick man rolls upon his pillow. The sweat had 
disappeared ; he was now dry, but, all that I could 
see of him, of the same dull brick-red. Presently 
his pick unearthed the bag of jewels ; but he did not 
observe it, and continued hewing at the soil. 

* Master,' said I, ' there is the treasure.' 

He seemed to waken from a dream. ' Where ? ' 
he cried ; and then, seeing it before his eyes, ' Can 
this be possible ? ' he added. ' I must be light-headed. 
Girl,' he cried suddenly, with the same screaming 
tone of voice that I had once before observed, ' what 
is wrong ? is this swamp accursed ? ' 

' It is a grave,' I answered. * You will not go out 
alive ; and as for me, my life is in God's hands.' 

He fell upon the ground like a man struck by a 
blow, but whether from the effect of my words, or 
from sudden seizure of the malady, I cannot tell. 
Pretty soon he raised his head. ' You have brought 
me here to die,' he said ; * at the risk of your own 
days, you have condemned me. Why ? ' 

' To save my honour,' I replied. ' Bear me out 
that I have warned you. Greed of these pebbles, 
and not I, has been your undoer.' 

He took out his revolver and handed it to me. 
228 



STORY OF THE FAIR CUBAN 

* You see,' he said, ' I could have killed you even 
yet. But I am dying, as you say ; nothing could 
save me ; and my bill is long enough already. Dear 
me, dear me,' he said, looking in my face with a 
curious, puzzled, and pathetic look, like a dull child 
at school, ' if there be a judgment afterwards, my bill 
is long enough.' 

At that, I broke into a passion of weeping, crawled 
at his feet, kissed his hands, begged his forgiveness, 
put the pistol back into his grasp, and besought him 
to avenge his death ; for indeed, if with my life I 
could have bought back his, I had not balanced at 
the cost. But he was determined, the poor soul, 
that I should yet more bitterly regret my act. 

' I have nothing to forgive,' said he. * Dear 
Heaven, what a thing is an old fool ! I thought, 
upon my word, you had taken quite a fancy to me.' 

He was seized, at the same time, with a dreadful, 
swimming dizziness, clung to me like a child, and 
called upon the name of some woman. Presently 
this spasm, which I watched with choking tears, 
lessened and died away ; and he came again to the 
full possession of his mind. ' 1 must write my will,' 
he said. ' Get out my pocket-book.' I did so, and 
he wrote hurriedly on one page with a pencil. * Do 
not let my son know,' he said ; * he is a cruel dog, is 
my son Philip ; do not let him know how you have 
paid me out'; and then all of a sudden, ' God,' he 
cried, ' I am blind,' and clapped both hands before his 
eyes ; and then again, and in a groaning whisper, 
' Don't leave me to the crabs ! ' I swore I would be 

229 



THE DYNAMITER 

true to him so long as a pulse stirred ; and I re- 
deemed my promise. I sat there and watched him, 
as I had watched my father, but with what different, 
with what appalling thoughts ! Through the long 
afternoon, he gradually sank. All that while, I 
fought an uphill battle to shield him from the swarms 
of ants and the clouds of mosquitoes : the prisoner 
of my crime. The night fell, the roar of insects 
instantly redoubled in the dark arcades of the swamp ; 
and still I was not sure that he had breathed his last. 
At length, the flesh of his hand, which I yet held 
in mine, grew chill between my fingers, and I knew 
that I was free. 

I took his pocket-book and the revolver, being 
resolved rather to die than to be captured, and, laden 
besides with the basket and the bag of gems, set 
forward towards the north. The swamp, at that 
hour of the night, was filled with a continuous din : 
animals and insects of all kinds, and all inimical to 
life, contributing their parts. Yet in the midst of this 
turmoil of sound, I walked as though my eyes were 
bandaged, beholding nothing. The soil sank under 
my foot, with a horrid, slippery consistence, as though 
I were walking among toads ; the touch of the thick 
wall of foliage, by which alone I guided myself, 
affrighted me like the touch of serpents ; the dark- 
ness checked my breathing like a gag ; indeed, I 
have never suffered such extremes of fear as during 
that nocturnal walk, nor have I ever known a more 
sensible relief than when I found the path beginning 
to mount and to grow firmer under foot, and saw, 
230 



STORY OF THE FAIR CUBAN 

although still some way in front of me, the silver 
brightness of the moon. 

Presently I had crossed the last of the jungle, and 
come forth amongst noble and lofty woods, clean 
rock, the clean, dry dust, the aromatic smell of 
mountain plants* that had been baked all day in 
sunlight, and the expressive silence of the night. 
My negro blood had carried me unhurt across that 
reeking and pestiferous morass ; by mere good 
fortune, I had escaped the crawling and stinging 
vermin with which it was alive ; and I had now 
before me the easier portion of my enterprise, to 
cross the isle and to make good my arrival at the 
haven and my acceptance on the English yacht. It 
was impossible by night to follow such a track as my 
father had described ; and I was casting about for 
any landmark and, in my ignorance, vainly consult- 
ing the disposition of the stars, when there fell upon 
my ear, from somewhere far in front, the sound of 
many voices hurriedly singing. 

I scarce knew upon what grounds I acted ; but I 
shaped my steps in the direction of that sound ; and 
in a quarter of an hour's walking, came unperceived 
to the margin of an open glade. It was lighted by 
the strong moon and by the flames of a fire. In the 
midst there stood a little low and rude building, 
surmounted by a cross : a chapel, as I then re- 
membered to have heard, long since desecrated and 
given over to the rites of Hoodoo. Hard by the 
steps of entrance was a black mass, continually 
agitated and stirring to and fro as if with inarticulate 

231 



THE DYNAMITER 

life ; and this I presently perceived to be a heap of 
cocks, hares, dogs, and other birds and animals, still 
struggling, but helplessly tethered and cruelly tossed 
one upon another. Both the fire and the chapel 
were surrounded by a ring of kneeling Africans, both 
men and women. Now they would raise their palms 
half closed to Heaven, with a peculiar, passionate 
gesture of supplication ; now they would bow their 
heads and spread their hands before them on the 
ground. As the double movement passed and re- 
passed along the line, the heads kept rising and fall- 
ing, like waves upon the sea ; and still, as if in time 
to these gesticulations, the hurried chant continued. 
I stood spell-bound, knowing that my life depended 
by a hair, knowing that I had stumbled on a celebra- 
tion of the rites of Hoodoo. 

Presently the door of the chapel opened and there 
came forth a tall negro, entirely nude, and bearing in 
his hand the sacrificial knife. He was followed by 
an apparition still more strange and shocking : Madam 
Mendizabal, naked also, and carrying in both hands, 
and raised to the level of her face, an open basket of 
wicker. It was filled with coiling snakes ; and these, 
as she stood there with the uplifted basket, shot 
through the osier grating and curled about her arms. 
At the sight of this, the fervour of the crowd seemed 
to swell suddenly higher ; and the chant rose in pitch 
and grew more irregular in time and accent. Then, 
at a sign from the tall negro, where he stood, motion- 
less and smiling, in the moon- and fire-light, the sing- 
ing died away, and there began the second stage of 
232 



STORY OF THE FAIR CUBAN 

this barbarous and bloody celebration. From different 
parts of the ring, one after another, man or woman, 
ran forth into the midst ; ducked, with that same 
gesture of the thrown-up hand, before the priestess 
and her snakes ; and, with various adjurations, uttered 
aloud the blackest wishes of the heart. Death and 
disease were the favours usually invoked : the death 
or the disease of enemies or rivals ; some calling 
down these plagues upon the nearest of their own 
blood, and one, to whom I swear I had been never 
less than kind, invoking them upon myself. At each 
petition, the tall negro, still smiling, picked up some 
bird or animal from the heaving mass upon his left, 
slew it with the knife, and tossed its body on the 
ground. At length, it seemed, it reached the turn 
of the high priestess. She set down the basket on 
the steps, moved into the centre of the ring, grovelled 
in the dust before the reptiles, and still grovelling 
lifted up her voice, between speech and singing, and 
with so great, with so insane a fervour of excitement, 
as struck a sort of horror through my blood. ' 

' Power,' she began, 'whose name we do not utter; 
power that is neither good nor evil, but below them 
both ; stronger than good, greater than evil — all my 
life long I have adored and served thee. Who has 
shed blood upon thine altars ? whose voice is broken 
with the singing of thy praises ? whose limbs are 
faint before their age with leaping in thy revels? 
Who has slain the child of her body ? I,' she 
cried, ' I, Metamnbogu ! By my own name, I name 
myself. I tear away the veil. I would be served or 

2 33 



THE DYNAMITER 

perish. Hear me, slime of the fat swamp, blackness 
of the thunder, venom of the serpent's udder — hear 
or slay me ! I would have two things, O shapeless 
one, O horror of emptiness — two things, or die ! 
The blood of my white-faced husband ; oh ! give 
me that ; he is the enemy of Hoodoo ; give me his 
blood ! And yet another, O racer of the blind 
winds, O germinator* in the ruins of the dead, O 
root of life, root of corruption ! I grow old, I grow 
hideous ; I am known, I am hunted for my life : let 
thy servant then lay by this outworn body ; let thy 
chief priestess turn again to the blossom of her days, 
and be a girl once more, and the desired of all men, 
even as in the past ! And, O lord and master, as 
I here ask a marvel not yet wrought since we were 
torn from the old land, have I not prepared the 
sacrifice in which thy soul delighteth — the kid with- 
out the horns ? ' 

Even as she uttered the words, there was a great 
rumour of joy through all the circle of worshippers ; 
it rose, and fell, and rose again ; and swelled at last 
into rapture, when the tall negro, who had stepped 
an instant into the chapel, reappeared before the 
door, carrying in his arms the body of the slave-girl, 
Cora. I know not if I saw what followed. When 
next my mind awoke to a clear knowledge, Cora was 
laid upon the steps before the serpents; the negro 
with the knife stood over her ; the knife rose ; and 
at this I screamed out in my great horror, bidding 
them, in God's name, to pause. 

A stillness fell upon the mob of cannibals. A 
234 



STORY OF THE FAIR CUBAN 

moment more, and they must have thrown off this 
stupor, and I infallibly have perished. But Heaven 
had designed to save me. The silence of these 
wretched men was not yet broken, when there arose, 
in the empty night, a sound louder than the roar of 
any European tempest, swifter to travel than the 
wings of any Eastern wind. Blackness engulfed the 
world : blackness, stabbed across from every side 
by intricate and blinding lightning. Almost in the 
same second, at one world-swallowing stride, the 
heart of the tornado reached the clearing. I heard 
an agonising crash, and the light of my reason was 
overwhelmed. 

When I recovered consciousness, the day was 
come. I was unhurt ; the trees close about me had 
not lost a bough ; and I might have thought at first 
that the tornado was a feature in a dream. It was 
otherwise indeed ; for when I looked abroad, I per- 
ceived I had escaped destruction by a hand's-breadth. 
Right through the forest, which here covered hill 
and dale, the storm had ploughed a lane of ruin. 
On either hand, the trees waved uninjured in the air 
of the morning ; but in the forthright course of its 
advance, the hurricane had left no trophy standing. 
Everything in that line, tree, man, or animal, the 
desecrated chapel and the votaries of Hoodoo, had 
been subverted and destroyed in that brief spasm of 
anger of the powers of air. Everything but a yard 
or two beyond the line of its passage, humble flower, 
lofty tree, and the poor vulnerable maid who now 
knelt to pay her gratitude to Heaven, awoke un- 

235 



THE DYNAMITER 

harmed in the crystal purity and peace of the new 
day. 

To move by the path of the tornado was a thing 
impossible to man, so wildly were the wrecks of the 
tall forest piled together by that fugitive convulsion. 
I crossed it indeed ; with such labour and patience, 
with so many dangerous slips and falls, as left me, 
at the farther side, bankrupt alike of strength and 
courage. There I sat down a while to recruit my 
forces ; and as I ate (how should I bless the kindli- 
ness of Heaven !) my eye, flitting to and fro in the 
colonnade of the great trees, alighted on a trunk 
that had been blazed. Yes, by the directing hand 
of Providence, I had been conducted to the very 
track I was to follow. With what a light heart I 
now set forth, and walking with how glad a step 
traversed the uplands of the isle ! 

It was hard upon the hour of noon when I came, 
all tattered and wayworn, to the summit of a steep 
descent, and looked below me on the sea. About 
all the coast, the surf, roused by the tornado of the 
night, beat with a particular fury and made a fringe 
of snow. Close at my feet I saw a haven, set in 
precipitous and palm-crowned bluffs of rock. Just 
outside, a ship was heaving on the surge, so trimly 
sparred, so glossily painted, so elegant and point- 
device in every feature, that my heart was seized 
with admiration. The English colours blew from 
her masthead ; and, from my high station, I caught 
glimpses of her snowy planking, as she rolled on the 
uneven deep, and saw the sun glitter on the brass 
236 



STORY OF THE FAIR CUBAN 

of her deck furniture. There, then, was my ship of 
refuge ; and of all my difficulties only one remained : 
to get on board of her. 

Half an hour later, I issued at last out of the 
woods on the margin of a cove, into whose jaws the 
tossing and blue billows entered, and along whose 
shores they broke with a surprising loudness. A 
wooded promontory hid the yacht ; and I had walked 
some distance round the beach, in what appeared to 
be a virgin solitude, when my eye fell on a boat, 
drawn into a natural harbour, where it rocked in 
safety, but deserted. I looked about for those who 
should have manned her ; and presently, in the im- 
mediate entrance of the wood, spied the red embers 
of a fire and, stretched around in various attitudes, 
a party of slumbering mariners. To these I drew 
near : most were black, a few white ; but all were 
dressed with the conspicuous decency of yachtsmen ; 
and one, from his peaked cap and glittering buttons, 
I rightly divined to be an officer. Him, then, I 
touched upon the shoulder. He started up ; the 
sharpness of his movement woke the rest ; and they 
all stared upon me in surprise. 

' What do you want ? ' inquired the officer. 

' To go on board the yacht,' I answered. 

I thought they all seemed disconcerted at this ; 
and the officer, with something of sharpness, asked 
me who I was. Now I had determined to conceal 
my name until I met Sir George ; and the first 
name that rose to my lips was that of the Sefiora 
Mendizabal. At the word, there went a shock 

237 



THE DYNAMITER 

about the little party of seamen ; the negroes stared 
at me with indescribable eagerness, the whites them- 
selves with something of a scared surprise ; and 
instantly the spirit of mischief prompted me to add : 
'And if the name is new to your ears, call me 
Metamnbogu.' 

I had never seen an effect so wonderful. The 
negroes threw their hands into the air, with the 
same gesture I remarked the night before about the 
Hoodoo camp-fire ; first one, and then another, ran 
forward and kneeled down and kissed the skirts of 
my torn dress ; and when the white officer broke 
out swearing and calling to know if they were mad, 
the coloured seamen took him by the shoulders, 
dragged him on one side till they were out of 
hearing, and surrounded him with open mouths 
and extravagant pantomime. The officer seemed 
to struggle hard ; he laughed aloud, and I saw him 
make gestures of dissent and protest ; but in the 
end, whether overcome by reason or simply weary 
of resistance, he gave in — approached me civilly 
enough, but with something of a sneering manner 
underneath — and touching his cap, 'My lady,' said 
he, 'if that is what you are, the boat is ready.' 

My reception on board the Nemorosa (for so the 
yacht was named) partook of the same mingled 
nature. We were scarcely within hail of that great 
and elegant fabric, where she lay rolling gunwale 
under and churning the blue sea to snow, before the 
bulwarks were lined with the heads of a great crowd 
of seamen, black, white, and yellow ; and these and 
238 



STORY OF THE FAIR CUBAN 

the few who manned the boat began exchanging 
shouts in some lingua franca incomprehensible to 
me. All eyes were directed on the passenger ; and 
once more I saw the negroes toss up their hands to 
Heaven, but now as if with passionate wonder and 
delight. 

At the head of the gangway, I was received by 
another officer, a gentlemanly man with blond and 
bushy whiskers ; and to him I addressed my demand 
to see Sir George. 

* But this is not ' he cried, and paused. 

'I know it,' returned the other officer, who had 
brought me from the shore. ' But what the devil 
can we do ? Look at all the niggers ! ' 

I followed his direction ; and as my eye lighted 
upon each, the poor ignorant Africans ducked, and 
bowed, and threw their hands into the air, as though 
in the presence of a creature half divine. Apparently 
the officer with the whiskers had instantly come 
round to the opinion of his subaltern ; for he now 
addressed me with every signal of respect. 

' Sir George is at the island, my lady,' said he : 
' for which, with your ladyship's permission, I shall 
immediately make all sail. The cabins are prepared. 
Steward, take Lady Greville below.' 

Under this new name, then, and so captivated 
by surprise that I could neither think nor speak, I 
was ushered into a spacious and airy cabin, hung 
about with weapons and surrounded by divans. The 
steward asked for my commands ; but I was by this 
time so wearied, bewildered, and disturbed, that I 

239 



THE DYNAMITER 

could only wave him to leave me to myself, and sink 
upon a pile of cushions. Presently, by the changed 
motion of the ship, I knew her to be under way ; 
my thoughts, so far from clarifying, grew the more 
distracted and confused ; dreams began to mingle 
and confound them ; and at length, by insensible 
transition, I sank into a dreamless slumber. 

When I awoke, the day and night had passed, and 
it was once more morning. The world on which I 
reopened my eyes swam strangely up and down ; the 
jewels in the bag that lay beside me chinked together 
ceaselessly ; the clock and the barometer wagged to 
and fro like pendulums ; and overhead, seamen were 
singing out at their work, and coils of rope clattering 
and thumping on the deck. Yet it was long before 
I had divined that I was at sea ; long before I had 
recalled, one after another, the tragical, mysterious, 
and inexplicable events that had brought me where 
I was. 

When I had done so, I thrust the jewels, which 
I was surprised to find had been respected, into the 
bosom of my dress ; and, seeing a silver bell hard by 
upon a table, rang it loudly. The steward instantly 
appeared ; I asked for food ; and he proceeded to 
lay the table, regarding me the while with a dis- 
quieting and pertinacious scrutiny. To relieve my- 
self of my embarrassment, I asked him, with as fair 
a show of ease as I could muster, if it were usual for 
yachts to carry so numerous a crew ? 

' Madam,' said he, ' I know not who you are, nor 
what mad fancy has induced you to usurp a name 
240 



STORY OF THE FAIR CUBAN 

and an appalling destiny that* are not yours. I 
warn you from the soul. No sooner arrived at the 
island ' 

At this moment he was interrupted by the 
whiskered officer, who had entered unperceived 
behind him, and now laid a hand upon his shoulder. 
The sudden pallor, the deadly and sick fear, that 
was imprinted on the steward's face, formed a start- 
ling addition to his words. 

' Parker ! ' said the officer, and pointed towards the 
door. 

' Yes, Mr. Kentish,' said the steward. ' For God's 
sake, Mr. Kentish ! ' And vanished, with a white 
face, from the cabin. 

Thereupon the officer bade me sit down, and 
began to help me, and join in the meal. ' I fill your 
ladyship's glass,' said he, and handed me a tumbler 
of neat rum. 

' Sir,' cried I, ' do you expect me to drink this ? ' 

He laughed heartily. ' Your ladyship is so much 
changed,' said he, ' that I no longer expect any one 
thing more than any other.' 

Immediately after, a white seaman entered the 
cabin, saluted both Mr. Kentish and myself, and 
informed the officer there was a sail in sight, which 
was bound to pass us very close, and that Mr. 
Harland was in doubt about the colours. 

' Being so near the island ? ' asked Mr. Kentish. 

' That was what Mr. Harland said, sir,' returned 
the sailor, with a scrape. 

* Better not, I think,' said Mr. Kentish. 'My 
7— Q 241 



THE DYNAMITER 

compliments to Mr. Harland ; and if she seem a 
lively boat, give her the stars and stripes ; but if 
she be dull, and we can easily outsail her, show 
John Dutchman. That is always another word for 
incivility at sea ; so we can disregard a hail or a flag 
of distress, without attracting notice.' 

As soon as the sailor had gone on deck, I turned 
to the officer in wonder. ' Mr. Kentish, if that be 
your name,' said I, ' are you ashamed of your own 
colours ? ' 

' Your ladyship refers to the Jolly Roger 1 ' he 
inquired, with perfect gravity ; and, immediately 
after, went into peals of laughter. ■ Pardon me,' 
said he ; * but here for the first time, I recognise 
your ladyship's impetuosity.' Nor, try as I pleased, 
could I extract from him any explanation of this 
mystery, but only oily and commonplace evasion. 

While we were thus occupied, the movement of 
the Nemorosa gradually became less violent ; its 
speed at the same time diminished; and presently 
after, with a sullen plunge, the anchor was discharged 
into the sea. Kentish immediately rose, offered his 
arm, and conducted me on deck ; where I found we 
were lying in a roadstead among many low and 
rocky islets, hovered about by an innumerable cloud 
of sea-fowl. Immediately under our board, a some- 
what larger isle was green with trees, set with a few 
low buildings and approached by a pier of very crazy 
workmanship ; and a little inshore of us, a smaller 
vessel lay at anchor. 

I had scarce time to glance to the four quarters 
242 



STORY OF THE FAIR CUBAN 

ere a boat was lowered. I was handed in, Kentish 
took place beside me, and we pulled briskly to the 
pier. A crowd of villainous, armed loiterers, both 
black and white, looked on upon our landing ; and 
again the word passed about among the negroes, and 
again I was received with prostrations and the same 
gesture of the flung-up hand. By this, what with 
the appearance of these men and the lawless, sea-girt 
spot in which I found myself, my courage began a 
little to decline, and, clinging to the arm of Mr. 
Kentish, I begged him to tell me what it meant ? 

'Nay, madam,' he returned, ' you know.' And 
leading me smartly through the crowd, which con- 
tinued to follow at a considerable distance, and at 
which he still kept looking back, I thought, with 
apprehension, he brought me to a low house that 
stood alone in an encumbered yard, opened the door, 
and begged me to enter. 

' But why ? ' said I. ' I demand to see Sir George. 1 

' Madam,' returned Mr. Kentish, looking suddenly 
as black as thunder, 'to drop all fence, I know 
neither who nor what you are ; beyond the fact 
that you are not the person whose name you have 
assumed. But be what you please, spy, ghost, devil, 
or most ill-judging jester, if you do not immediately 
enter that house, I will cut you to the earth.' And 
even as he spoke, he threw an uneasy glance behind 
him at the following crowd of blacks. 

I did not wait to be twice threatened ; I obeyed 
at once and with a palpitating heart ; and the next 
moment, the door was locked from the outside and 

243 



THE DYNAMITER 

the key withdrawn. The interior was long, low, and 
quite unfurnished, but rilled, almost from end to 
end, with sugar-cane, tar-barrels, old tarry rope, and 
other incongruous and highly inflammable material ; 
and not only was the door locked, but the solitary 
window barred with iron. 

I was by this time so exceedingly bewildered and 
afraid, that I would have given years of my life to 
be once more the slave of Mr. Caulder. I still stood, 
with my hands clasped, the image of despair, looking 
about me on the lumber of the room or raising my 
eyes to Heaven ; when there appeared, outside the 
window bars, the face of a very black negro, who 
signed to me imperiously to draw near. I did so, 
and he instantly, and with every mark of fervour, 
addressed me a long speech in some unknown and 
barbarous tongue. 

* I declare,' I cried, clasping my brow, ' I do not 
understand one syllable.' 

' Not ? ' he said in Spanish. ' Great, great, are the 
powers of Hoodoo ! Her very mind is changed ! 
But, O chief priestess, why have you suffered your- 
self to be shut into this cage ? why did you not call 
your slaves at once to your defence ? Do you not 
see that all has been prepared to murder you ? at a 
spark, this flimsy house will go in flames ; and alas ! 
who shall then be the chief priestess ? and what shall 
be the profit of the miracle ? ' 

' Heavens ! ' cried I, ' can I not see Sir George ? 
I must, I must, come by speech of him. Oh, bring 
me to Sir George ! ' And, my terror fairly mastering 
244 



STORY OF THE FAIR CUBAN 

my courage, I fell upon my knees and began to pray 
to all the saints. 

' Lordy ! ' cried the negro, ' here they come ! ' And 
his black head was instantly withdrawn from the 
window. 

* I never heard such nonsense in my life,' exclaimed 
a voice. 

' Why, so we all say, Sir George,' replied the voice 
of Mr. Kentish. ' But put yourself in our place. 
The niggers were near two to one. And upon my 
word, if you '11 excuse me, sir, considering the notion 
they have taken in their heads, I regard it as precious 
fortunate for all of us that the mistake occurred.' 

' This is no question of fortune, sir,' returned Sir 
George. ' It is a question of my orders, and you 
may take my word for it, Kentish, either Harland, 
or yourself, or Parker — or, by George, all three of 
you ! — shall swing for this affair. These are my 
sentiments. Give me the key and be off.' 

Immediately after, the key turned in the lock ; and 
there appeared upon the threshold a gentleman, be- 
tween forty and fifty, with a very open countenance 
and of a stout and personable figure. 

' My dear young lady,' said he, ' who the devil may 
you be ? ' 

I told him all my story in one rush of words. He 
heard me, from the first, with an amazement you can 
scarcely picture, but when I came to the death of 
the Senora Mendizabal in the tornado, he fairly 
leaped into the air. 

' My dear child,' he cried, clasping me in his arms, 

245 



THE DYNAMITER 

' excuse a man who might be your father ! This is 
the best news I ever had since I was born ; for that 
hag of a mulatto was no less a person than my wife.' 
He sat down upon a tar-barrel, as if unmanned by 
joy. ' Dear me,' said he, ' I declare this tempts me 
to believe in Providence. And what,' he added, ' can 
I do for you ? ' 

e Sir George,' said I, ' I am already rich : all that I 
ask is your protection.' 

' Understand one thing,' he said, with great energy : 
' I will never marry.' 

' I had not ventured to propose it,' I exclaimed, 
unable to restrain my mirth ; ' I only seek to be 
conveyed to England, the natural home of the 
escaped slave.' 

' Well,' returned Sir George, ' frankly I owe you 
something for this exhilarating news ; besides, your 
father was of use to me. Now, I have made a small 
competence in business — a jewel mine, a sort of 
naval agency, et caetera, and I am on the point of 
breaking up my company, and retiring to my place 
in Devonshire to pass a plain old age, unmarried. 
One good turn deserves another : if you swear to 
hold your tongue about this island, these little bon- 
fire arrangements, and the whole episode of my un- 
fortunate marriage, why, I 11 carry you home aboard 
the Nemorosa.'' 

I eagerly accepted his conditions. 

' One thing more,' said he. ' My late wife was 
some sort of a sorceress among the blacks ; and they 
are all persuaded she has come alive again in your 
246 



STORY OF THE FAIR CUBAN 

agreeable person. Now, you will have the goodness 
to keep up that fancy, if you please ; and to swear 
to them, on the authority of Hoodoo or whatever 
his name may be, that I am from this moment quite 
a sacred character.' 

' I swear it,' said I, * by my father's memory ; and 
that is a vow that I will never break.' 

« 1 have considerably better hold on you than any 
oath,' returned Sir George, with a chuckle ; « for you 
are not only an escaped slave, but have, by your own 
account, a considerable amount of stolen property.' 

I was struck dumb ; I saw it was too true ; in a 
glance, I recognised that these jewels were no longer 
mine ; with similar quickness, I decided they should 
be restored, ay, if it cost me the liberty that I had 
just regained. Forgetful of all else, forgetful of Sir 
George who sat and watched me with a smile, I 
drew out Mr. Caulder's pocket-book and turned to 
the page on which the dying man had scrawled his 
testament. How shall I describe the agony of 
happiness and remorse with which I read it ! for my 
victim had not only set me free, but bequeathed to 
me the bag of jewels. 

My plain tale draws towards a close. Sir George 
and I, in my character of his rejuvenated wife, dis- 
played ourselves arm-in-arm among the negroes, and 
were cheered and followed to the place of embarka- 
tion. There, Sir George, turning about, made a 
speech to his old companions, in which he thanked 
and bade them farewell with a very manly spirit ; 
and towards the end of which he fell on some 

247 



THE DYNAMITER 

expressions which I still remember. ' If any of you 
gentry lose your money,' he said, ' take care you do 
not come to me ; for in the first place, I shall do my 
best to have you murdered ; and if that fails, I hand 
you over to the law. Blackmail won't do for me. 
1 11 rather risk all upon a cast, than be pulled to 
pieces by degrees. 1 11 rather be found out and 
hang, than give a doit to one man-jack of you.' 
That same night we got under way and crossed to 
the port of New Orleans, whence, as a sacred trust, 
I sent the pocket-book to Mr. Caulder's son. In a 
week's time, the men were all paid off; new hands 
were shipped ; and the Nemorosa weighed her anchor 
for Old England. 

A more delightful voyage it were hard to fancy. 
Sir George, of course, was not a conscientious man ; 
but he had an unaffected gaiety of character that 
naturally endeared him to the young ; and it was 
interesting to hear him lay out his projects for the 
future, when he should be returned to parliament, 
and place at the service of the nation his experience 
of marine affairs. I asked him, if his notion of piracy 
upon a private yacht were not original. But he told 
me, no, ' A yacht, Miss Valdevia,' he observed, ' is 
a chartered nuisance. Who smuggles ? Who robs 
the salmon rivers of the west of Scotland ? Who 
cruelly beats the keepers if they dare to intervene ? 
The crews and the proprietors of yachts. All I have 
done is to extend the line a trifle ; and if you ask 
me for my unbiassed opinion, I do not suppose that 
I am in the least alone.' 
248 



STORY OF THE FAIR CUBAN 

In short we were the best of friends, and lived like 
father and daughter ; though I still withheld from 
him, of course, that respect which is only due to 
moral excellence. 

We were still some days' sail from England when 
Sir George obtained, from an outward-bound ship, a 
packet of newspapers ; and from that fatal hour my 
misfortunes recommenced. He sat, the same even- 
ing, in the cabin, reading the news, and making 
savoury comments on the decline of England and 
the poor condition of the navy ; when I suddenly 
observed him to change countenance. 

' Hullo ! ' said he, ' this is bad ; this is deuced bad, 
Miss Valdevia. You would not listen to sound sense, 
you would send that pocket-book to that man 
Caulder's son.' 

' Sir George,' said I, 'it was my duty.' 

' You are prettily paid for it, at least,' says he ; 
' and much as I regret it, I, for one, am done with 
you. This fellow Caulder demands your extradition.' 

'But a slave,' I returned, 'is safe in England.' 

' Yes, by George ! ' replied the baronet ; ' but it 's 
not a slave, Miss Valdevia, it's a thief that he 
demands. He has quietly destroyed the will; and 
now accuses you of robbing your father's bankrupt 
estate of jewels to the value of a hundred thousand 
pounds.' 

I was so much overcome by indignation at this 
hateful charge and concern for my unhappy fate that 
the genial baronet made haste to put me more at 
ease. 

249 



THE DYNAMITER 

' Do not be cast down,' said he. ' Of course, I 
wash my hands of you myself. A man in my 
position — baronet, old family, and all that — cannot 
possibly be too particular about the company he 
keeps. But I am a deuced good-humoured old boy, 
let me tell you, when not ruffled ; and I will do the 
best I can to put you right. I will lend you a trifle 
of ready money, give you the address of an excellent 
lawyer in London, and find a way to set you on 
shore unsuspected.' 

He was in every particular as good as his word. 
Four days later, the Nemorosa sounded her way, 
under the cloak of a dark night, into a certain haven 
of the coast of England ; and a boat, rowing with 
muffled oars, set me ashore upon the beach within a 
stone's throw of a railway station. Thither, guided 
by Sir George's directions, I groped a devious way ; 
and, finding a bench upon the platform, sat me down, 
wrapped in a man's fur greatcoat, to await the 
coming of the day. It was still dark when a light 
was struck behind one of the windows of the build- 
ing ; nor had the east begun to kindle to the warmer 
colours of the dawn, before a porter, carrying a 
lantern, issued from the door and found himself face 
to face with the unfortunate Teresa. He looked all 
about him ; in the grey twilight of the dawn, the 
haven was seen to lie deserted, and the yacht had 
long since disappeared. 

' Who are you ? ' he cried. 

4 1 am a traveller,' said I. 

' And where do you come from ? ' he asked. 
250 



STORY OF THE FAIR CUBAN 

' I am going, by the first train, to London,' I 
replied. 

In such manner, like a ghost or a new creation, 
was Teresa with her bag of jewels landed on the 
shores of England ; in this silent fashion, without 
history or name, she took her place among the 
millions of a new country. 

Since then, I have lived by the expedients of my 
lawyer, lying concealed in quiet lodgings, dogged by 
the spies of Cuba, and not knowing at what hour 
my liberty and honour may be lost. 



THE BROWN BOX (concluded) 

The effect of this tale on the mind of Harry Des- 
borough was instant and convincing. The Fair 
Cuban had been already the loveliest, she now 
became, in his eyes, the most romantic, the most 
innocent, and the most unhappy of her sex. He was 
bereft of words to utter what he felt : what pity, 
what admiration, what youthful envy of a career 
so vivid and adventurous. ' Oh, madam ! ' he began; 
and finding no language adequate to that apo- 
strophe, caught up her hand and wrung it in his own. 
6 Count upon me,' he added, with bewildered fervour; 
and, getting somehow or other out of the apartment 
and from the circle of that radiant sorceress, he 
found himself in the strange out-of-doors, beholding 
dull houses, wondering at dull passers-by, a fallen 
angel. She had smiled upon him as he left, and 

251 



THE DYNAMITER 

with how significant, how beautiful a smile ! The 
memory lingered in his heart ; and when he found 
his way to a certain restaurant where music was 
performed, flutes (as it were of Paradise) accom- 
panied his meal. The strings went to the melody 
of that parting smile ; they paraphrased and glossed 
it in the sense that he desired ; and for the first time 
in his plain and somewhat dreary life, he perceived 
himself to have a taste for music. 

The next day, and the next, his meditations moved 
to that delectable air. Now he saw her, and was 
favoured ; now saw her not at all ; now saw her and 
was put by. The fall of her foot upon the stair 
entranced him ; the books that he sought out and 
read were books on Cuba and spoke of her in- 
directly; nay, and in the very landlady's parlour, 
he found one that told of precisely such a hurricane 
and, down to the smallest detail, confirmed (had 
confirmation been required) the truth of her recital. 
Presently he began to fall into that prettiest mood 
of a young love, in which the lover scorns himself 
for his presumption. Who was he, the dull one, the 
commonplace unemployed, the man without adven- 
ture, the impure, the untruthful, to aspire to such 
a creature made of fire and air, and hallowed and 
adorned by such incomparable passages of fife? 
What should he do, to be more worthy ? by what 
devotion, call down the notice of these eyes to so 
terrene a being as himself? 

He betook himself, thereupon, to the rural privacy 
of the square, where, being a lad of a kind heart, he 
252 



THE BROWN BOX 

had made himself a circle of acquaintances among 
its shy frequenters, the half-domestic cats and the 
visitors that hung before the windows of the Chil- 
dren's Hospital. There he walked, considering the 
depth of his demerit and the height of the adored 
one's super-excellence; now lighting upon earth to 
say a pleasant word to the brother of some infant 
invalid ; now, with a great heave of breath, remem- 
bering the queen of women, and the sunshine of his 
life. 

What was he to do? Teresa, he had observed, 
was in the habit of leaving the house towards after- 
noon : she might, perchance, run danger from some 
Cuban emissary, when the presence of a friend might 
turn the balance in her favour : how, then, if he 
should follow her? To offer his company would 
seem like an intrusion ; to dog her openly were a 
manifest impertinence ; he saw himself reduced to a 
more stealthy part, which, though in some ways 
distasteful to his mind, he did not doubt that he 
could practise with the skill of a detective. 

The next day he proceeded to put his plan in 
action. At the corner of Tottenham Court Road, 
however, the Senorita suddenly turned back, and 
met him face to face, with every mark of pleasure 
and surprise. 

* Ah, Senor, I am sometimes fortunate ! ' she cried. 
' I was looking for a messenger ' ; and with the 
sweetest of smiles she despatched him to the east 
end of London, to an address which he was unable 
to find. This was a bitter pill to the knight-errant ; 

2 53 



THE DYNAMITER 

but when he returned at night, worn out with fruit- 
less wandering and dismayed by his fiasco, the lady 
received him with a friendly gaiety, protesting that 
all was for the best, since she had changed her mind 
and long since repented of her message. 

Next day he resumed his labours, glowing with 
pity and courage, and determined to protect Teresa 
with his life. But a painful shock awaited him. In 
the narrow and silent Hanway Street, she turned 
suddenly about and addressed him with a manner 
and a light in her eyes, that were new to the young 
man's experience. 

' Do I understand that you follow me, Senor ? ' 
she cried. ' Are these the manners of the English 
gentleman ? ' 

Harry confounded himself in the most abject 
apologies and prayers to be forgiven, vowed to 
offend no more, and was at length dismissed, crest- 
fallen and heavy of heart. The check was final ; 
he gave up that road to service ; and began once 
more to hang about the square or on the terrace, 
filled with remorse and love, admirable and idiotic, 
a fit object for the scorn and envy of older men. In 
these idle hours, while he was courting fortune for a 
sight of the beloved, it fell out naturally that he 
should observe the manners and appearance of such 
as came about the house. One person alone was the 
occasional visitor of the young lady : a man of con- 
siderable stature and distinguished only by the 
doubtful ornament of a chin-beard in the style of 
an American deacon. Something in his appearance 
254 



THE BROWN BOX 

grated upon Harry; this distaste grew upon him 
in the course of days ; and when at length he 
mustered courage to inquire of the Fair Cuban 
who this was, he was yet more dismayed by her 
reply. 

' That gentleman,' said she, a smile struggling to 
her face, ' that gentleman, I will not attempt to con- 
ceal from you, desires my hand in marriage, and 
presses me with the most respectful ardour. Alas, 
what am I to say ? I, the forlorn Teresa, how shall 
I refuse or accept such protestations ? ' 

Harry feared to say more ; a horrid pang of jealousy 
transfixed him ; and he had scarce the strength of 
mind to take his leave with decency. In the solitude 
of his own chamber, he gave way to every mani- 
festation of despair. He passionately adored the 
Senorita ; but it was not only the thought of her 
possible union with another that distressed his soul, 
it was the indefeasible conviction that her suitor was 
unworthy. To a duke, a bishop, a victorious general, 
or any man adorned with obvious qualities, he had 
resigned her with a sort of bitter joy ; he saw himself 
follow the wedding party from a great way off; he 
saw himself return to the poor house, then robbed of 
its jewel; and while he could have wept for his 
despair, he felt he could support it nobly. But this 
affair looked otherwise. The man was patently no 
gentleman ; he had a startled, skulking, guilty bear- 
ing ; his nails were black, his eyes evasive ; his love 
perhaps was a pretext; he was perhaps, under this 
deep disguise, a Cuban emissary ! Harry swore that 

255 



THE DYNAMITER 

he would satisfy these doubts ; and the next evening, 
about the hour of the usual visit, he posted himself 
at a spot whence his eye commanded the three issues 
of the square. 

Presently after, a four-wheeler rumbled to the 
door; and the man with the chin-beard alighted, 
paid off the cabman, and was seen by Harry to enter 
the house with a brown box hoisted on his back. 
Half an hour later, he came forth again without the 
box, and struck eastward at a rapid walk ; and Des- 
borough, with the same skill and caution that he had 
displayed in following Teresa, proceeded to dog the 
steps of her admirer. The man began to loiter, 
studying with apparent interest the wares of the 
small fruiterer or tobacconist ; twice he returned 
hurriedly upon his former course ; and then, as 
though he had suddenly conquered a moment's 
hesitation, once more set forth with resolute and 
swift steps in the direction of Lincoln's Inn. At 
length, in a deserted by-street, he turned ; and 
coming up to Harry with a countenance which 
seemed to have become older and whiter, inquired 
with some severity of speech if he had not had the 
pleasure of seeing the gentleman before. 

'You have, sir,' said Harry, somewhat abashed, 
but with a good show of stoutness ; ' and I will not 
deny that I was following you on purpose. Doubt- 
less,' he added, for he supposed that all men's minds 
must still be running on Teresa, ' you can divine my 
reason.' 

At these words, the man with the chin -beard 
256 



THE BROWN BOX 

was seized with a palsied tremor. He seemed, for 
some seconds, to seek the utterance which his fear 
denied him ; and then, whipping sharply about, he 
took to his heels at the most furious speed of 
running. 

Harry was at first so taken aback that he neglected 
to pursue; and by the time he had recovered his 
wits, his best expedition was only rewarded by a 
glimpse of the man with the chin-beard mounting 
into a hansom, which immediately after disappeared 
into the moving crowds of Holborn. 

Puzzled and dismayed by this unusual behaviour, 
Harry returned to the house in Queen Square, and 
ventured for the first time to knock at the Fair 
Cuban's door. She bade him enter, and he found 
her kneeling with rather a disconsolate air beside a 
brown wooden trunk. 

'Senorita,' he broke out, 'I doubt whether that 
man's character is what he wishes you to believe. 
His manner, when he found, and indeed when I 
admitted, that I was following him, was not the 
manner of an honest man.' 

' Oh ! ' she cried, throwing up her hands as in de- 
speration, 'Don Quixote, Don Quixote, have you 
again been tilting against windmills ? ' And then, 
with a laugh, ' Poor soul ! ' she added, ' how you 
must have terrified him ! For know that the Cuban 
authorities are here, and your poor Teresa may soon 
be hunted down. Even yon humble clerk from my 
solicitor's office may find himself at any moment the 
quarry of armed spies.' 

7— r 257 



THE DYNAMITER 

'A humble clerk!' cried Harry, 'why, you told 
me yourself that he wished to marry you ! ' 

' I thought you English like what you call a joke,' 
replied the lady calmly. ' As a matter of fact he is 
my lawyer's clerk, and has been here to-night charged 
with disastrous news. I am in sore straits, Senor 
Harry. Will you help me ? ' 

At this most welcome word, the young man's 
heart exulted ; and in the hope, pride, and self-esteem, 
that kindled with the very thought of service, he 
forgot to dwell upon the lady's jest. 'Can you 
ask?' he cried. 'What is there that I can do? 
Only tell me that ! ' 

With signs of an emotion that was certainly un- 
feigned, the Fair Cuban laid her hand upon the box. 
'This box/ she said, 'contains my jewels, papers, 
and clothes; all, in a word, that still connects me 
with Cuba and my dreadful past. They must now 
be smuggled out of England ; or, by the opinion of 
my lawyer, I am lost beyond remedy. To-morrow, 
on board the Irish packet, a sure hand awaits the 
box ; the problem still unsolved is to find some one 
to carry it as far as Holyhead, to see it placed on 
board the steamer, and instantly return to town. 
Will you be he ? Will you leave to-morrow by the 
first train, punctually obey orders, bear still in mind 
that you are surrounded by Cuban spies ; and with- 
out so much as a look behind you, or a single move- 
ment to betray your interest, leave the box where 
you have put it and come straight on shore ? Will 
you do this, and so save your friend ? ' 
258 



THE BROWN BOX 

'I do not clearly understand . . .' began Harry. 

'No more do I,' replied the Cuban. 'It is not 
necessary that we should, so long as we obey the 
lawyer's orders.' 

' Sefiorita,' returned Harry gravely, * I think this, 
of course, a very little thing to do for you, when I 
would willingly do all. But suffer me to say one 
word. If London is unsafe for your treasures, it 
cannot long be safe for you ; and indeed, if I at all 
fathom the plan of your solicitor, I fear I may find 
you already fled on my return. I am not considered 
clever, and can only speak out plainly what is in my 
heart: that I love you, and that I cannot bear to 
lose all knowledge of you. I hope no more than to 
be your servant ; I ask no more than just that I shall 
hear of you. Oh, promise me so much ! ' 

' You shall,' she said, after a pause. ' I promise 
you, you shall.' But though she spoke with earnest- 
ness, the marks of great embarrassment and a strong 
conflict of emotions appeared upon her face. 

' I wish to tell you,' resumed Desborough, ' in case 
of accidents . . .' 

' Accidents ! ' she cried : ' why do you say that ? ' 

' I do not know,' said he, * you may be gone before 
my return, and we may not meet again for long. 
And so I wished you to know this : That since the 
day you gave me the cigarette, you have never once, 
not once, been absent from my mind ; and if it will 
in any way serve you, you may crumple me up like 
that piece of paper, and throw me on the fire. I 
would love to die for you.' 

259 



THE DYNAMITER 

f Go ! ' she said. ' Go now at once ! My brain is 
in a whirl. I scarce know what we are talking. 
Go ; and good-night ; and oh, may you come safe I ' 

Once back in his own room a fearful joy possessed 
the young man's mind ; and as he recalled her face 
struck suddenly white and the broken utterance of 
her last words, his heart at once exulted and misgave 
him. Love had indeed looked upon him with a 
tragic mask ; and yet what mattered, since at least 
it was love — since at least she was commoved at their 
division ? He got to bed with these parti-coloured 
thoughts; passed from one dream to another all 
night long, the white face of Teresa still haunting 
him, wrung with unspoken thoughts ; and, in the 
grey of the dawn, leaped suddenly out of bed, in a 
kind of horror. It was already time for him to rise. 
He dressed, made his breakfast on cold food that had 
been laid for him the night before ; and went down 
to the room of his idol for the box. The door was 
open ; a strange disorder reigned within ; the fur- 
niture all pushed aside, and the centre of the room 
left bare of impediment, as though for the pacing of 
a creature with a tortured mind. There lay the box, 
however, and upon the lid a paper with these words : 
' Harry, I hope to be back before you go. Teresa. ' 

He sat down to wait, laying his watch before him 
on the table. She had called him Harry : that 
should be enough, he thought, to fill the day with 
sunshine ; and yet somehow the sight of that dis- 
ordered room still poisoned his enjoyment. The 
door of the bedchamber stood gaping open ; and 
260 



THE BROWN BOX 

though he turned aside his eyes as from a sacrilege, 
he could not but observe the bed had not been slept 
in. He was still pondering what this should mean, 
still trying to convince himself that all was well, 
when the moving needle of his watch summoned him 
to set forth without delay. He was before all things 
a man of his word ; ran round to Southampton Row 
to fetch a cab ; and, taking the box on the front seat, 
drove off towards the terminus. 

The streets were scarcely awake ; there was little 
to amuse the eye ; and the young man's attention 
centred on the dumb companion of his drive. A 
card was nailed upon one side, bearing the super- 
scription : ' Miss Doolan, passenger to Dublin. 
Glass. With care.' He thought with a sentimental 
shock that the fair idol of his heart was perhaps 
driven to adopt the name of Doolan ; and, as he still 
studied the card, he was aware of a deadly black 
depression settling steadily upon his spirits. It was 
in vain for him to contend against the tide ; in vain 
that he shook himself or tried to whistle : the sense 
of some impending blow was not to be averted. He 
looked out ; in the long, empty streets, the cab pur- 
sued its way without a trace of any follower. He 
gave ear ; and over and above the jolting of the 
wheels upon the road, he was conscious of a certain 
regular and quiet sound that seemed to issue from 
the box. He put his ear to the cover; at one 
moment, he seemed to perceive a delicate ticking; 
the next, the sound was gone, nor could his closest 
hearkening recapture it. He laughed at himself; 

261 



THE DYNAMITER 

but still the gloom continued ; and it was with more 
than the common relief of an arrival, that he leaped 
from the cab before the station. 

Probably enough on purpose, Teresa had named 
an hour some thirty minutes earlier than needful ; 
and when Harry had given the box into the charge 
of a porter, who set it on a truck, he proceeded 
briskly to pace the platform. Presently the book- 
stall opened ; and the young man was looking at the 
books when he was seized by the arm. He turned 
and, though she was closely veiled, at once recog- 
nised the Fair Cuban. 

' Where is it ? ' she asked ; and the sound of her 
voice surprised him. 

'It?' he said. 'What?' 

' The box. Have it put on a cab instantly. I am 
in fearful haste.' 

He hurried to obey, marvelling at these changes 
but not daring to trouble her with questions ; and 
when the cab had been brought round, and the box 
mounted on the front, she passed a little way off 
upon the pavement and beckoned him to follow. 

' Now,' said she, still in those mechanical and 
hushed tones that had at first affected him, 'you 
must go on to Holyhead alone ; go on board the 
steamer ; and if you see a man in tartan trousers and 
a pink scarf, say to him that all has been put off : if 
not,' she added, with a sobbing sigh, 'it does not 
matter. So, good-bye.' 

'Teresa,' said Harry, 'get into your cab, and I 
will go along with you. You are in some distress, 
262 



THE BROWN BOX 

perhaps some danger; and till I know the whole, 
not even you can make me leave you.' 

' You will not ? ' she asked. ' Oh, Harry, it were 
better ! ' 

' I will not,' said Harry stoutly. 

She looked at him for a moment through her 
veil ; took his hand suddenly and sharply, but more 
as if in fear than tenderness ; and, still holding him, 
walked to the cab-door. 

' Where are we to drive ? ' asked Harry. 

'Home, quickly,' she answered; 'double fare!' 
And as soon as they had both mounted to their 
places, the vehicle crazily trundled from the station. 

Teresa leaned back in a corner. The whole way 
Harry could perceive her tears to flow under her 
veil ; but she vouchsafed no explanation. At the 
door of the house in Queen Square, both alighted ; 
and the cabman lowered the box, which Harry, glad 
to display his strength, received upon his shoulders. 

' Let the man take it,' she whispered. ' Let the 
man take it.' 

' I will do no such thing,' said Harry cheerfully ; 
and having paid the fare, he followed Teresa through 
the door which she had opened with her key. The 
landlady and maid were gone upon their morning 
errands ; the house was empty and still ; and as the 
rattling of the cab died away down Gloucester Street, 
and Harry continued to ascend the stair with his 
burthen, he heard close against his shoulders the 
same faint and muffled ticking as before. The lady, 
still preceding him, opened the door of her room, 

263 



THE DYNAMITER 

and helped him to lower the box tenderly in the 
corner by the window. 

' And now,' said Harry, 'what is wrong ? ' 

' You will not go away ? ' she cried, with a sudden 
break in her voice and beating her hands together in 
the very agony of impatience. ' Oh, Harry, Harry, 
go away ! Oh, go, and leave me to the fate that I 
deserve ! ' 

' The fate ? ' repeated Harry. ' What is this ? ' 

' No fate,' she resumed. ' I do not know what I 
am saying. But I wish to be alone. You may come 
back this evening, Harry; come again when you 
like ; but leave me now, only leave me now ! ' And 
then suddenly, ' I have an errand,' she exclaimed ; 
' you cannot refuse me that ! ' 

' No,' replied Harry, ' you have no errand. You 
are in grief or danger. Lift your veil and tell me 
what it is.' 

'Then,' she said, with a sudden composure, 'you 
leave but one course open to me.' And raising the 
veil, she showed him a countenance from which 
every trace of colour had fled, eyes marred with 
weeping, and a brow on which resolve had conquered 
fear. ' Harry,' she began, ' I am not what I seem.' 

'You have told me that before,' said Harry, 
' several times.' 

'Oh, Harry, Harry,' she cried, 'how you shame 
me ! But this is the God's truth. I am a dangerous 
and wicked girl. My name is Clara Luxmore. I 
was never nearer Cuba than Penzance. From first 
to last I have cheated and played with you. And 
264 



THE BROWN BOX 

what I am I dare not even name to you in words. 
Indeed, until to-day, until the sleepless watches of 
last night, I never grasped the depth and foulness of 
my guilt.' 

The young man looked upon her aghast. Then a 
generous current poured along his veins. ' That is 
all one,' he said. ' If you be all you say, you have 
the greater need of me.' 

' Is it possible,' she exclaimed, ' that I have 
schemed in vain ? And will nothing drive you from 
this house of death ? ' 

' Of death ? ' he echoed. 

' Death ! ' she cried : ' death ! In that box which 
you have dragged about London and carried on your 
defenceless shoulders, sleep, at the trigger's mercy, 
the destroying energies of dynamite.' 

' My God ! ' cried Harry. 

' Ah ! ' she continued wildly, ' will you flee now ? 
At any moment you may hear the click that sounds 
the ruin of this building. I was sure M'Guire was 
wrong ; this morning, before day, I flew to Zero ; 
he confirmed my fears ; I beheld you, my beloved 
Harry, fall a victim to my own contrivances. I 
knew then I loved you — Harry, will you go now ? 
Will you not spare me this unwilling crime ? ' 

Harry remained speechless, his eyes fixed upon 
the box : at last he turned to her. 

' Is it,' he asked hoarsely, * an infernal machine ? ' 

Her lips formed the word ' yes ' ; which her voice 
refused to utter. 

With fearful curiosity, he drew near and bent 

265 



THE DYNAMITER 

above the box ; in that still chamber, the ticking 
was distinctly audible ; and at the measured sound, 
the blood flowed back upon his heart. 

* For whom ? ' he asked. 

' What matters it ? ' she cried, seizing him by the 
arm. 'If you may still be saved, what matter 
questions ? ' 

' God in Heaven ! ' cried Harry. * And the Chil- 
dren's Hospital ! At whatever cost, this damned 
contrivance must be stopped ! ' 

'It cannot,' she gasped. 'The power of man 
cannot avert the blow. But you, Harry — you, my 
beloved — you may still ' 

And then from the box that lay so quietly in the 
corner, a sudden catch was audible, like the catch of 
a clock before it strikes the hour. For one second, 
the two stared at each other with lifted brows and 
stony eyes. Then Harry, throwing one arm over 
his face, with the other clutched the girl to his 
breast and staggered against the wall. 

A dull and startling thud resounded through the 
room ; their eyes blinked against the coming horror ; 
and still clinging together like drowning people, they 
fell to the floor. Then followed a prolonged and 
strident hissing as from the indignant pit ; an offen- 
sive stench seized them by the throat ; the room was 
filled with dense and choking fumes. 

Presently these began a little to disperse: and 

when at length they drew themselves, all limp and 

shaken, to a sitting posture, the first object that 

greeted their vision was the box reposing uninjured 

266 



THE BROWN BOX 

in its corner, but still leaking little wreaths of vapour 
round the lid. 

' Oh, poor Zero ! ' cried the girl, with a strange 
sobbing laugh. ' Alas, poor Zero ! This will break 
his heart 1 ' 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION (concluded) 

Somerset ran straight upstairs ; the door of the 
drawing-room, contrary to all custom, was unlocked ; 
and, bursting in, the young man found Zero seated 
on a sofa in an attitude of singular dejection. Close 
beside him stood an untasted grog, the mark of 
strong preoccupation. The room besides was in 
confusion : boxes had been tumbled to and fro ; the 
floor was strewn with keys and other implements; 
and in the midst of this disorder lay a lady's glove. 

* I have come,' cried Somerset, ' to make an end of 
this. Either you will instantly abandon all your 
schemes, or (cost what it may) I will denounce you 
to the police.' 

' Ah ! ' replied Zero, slowly shaking his head. 
' You are too late, dear fellow ! I am already at 
the end of all my hopes and fallen to be a laughing- 
stock and mockery. My reading,' he added, with a 
gentle despondency of manner, ' has not been much 
among romances ; yet I recall from one a phrase 
that depicts my present state with critical exacti- 
tude ; and you behold me sitting here " like a burst 
drum." ' 

267 



THE DYNAMITER 

' What has befallen you ? ' cried Somerset. 

' My last batch,' returned the plotter wearily, ' like 
all the others, is a hollow mockery and a fraud. In 
vain do I combine the elements ; in vain adjust the 
springs ; and I have now arrived at such a pitch of 
disconsideration that (except yourself, dear fellow), 
I do not know a soul that I can face. My sub- 
ordinates themselves have turned upon me. What 
language have I heard to-day, what illiberality of 
sentiment, what pungency of expression ! She came 
once; I could have pardoned that, for she was 
moved ; but she returned, returned to announce 
to me this crushing blow ; and, Somerset, she was 
very inhumane. Yes, dear fellow, I have drunk a 
bitter cup ; the speech of females is remarkable for 
. . . well, well ! Denounce me, if you will ; you 
but denounce the dead. I am extinct. It is strange 
how, at this supreme crisis of my life, I should be 
haunted by quotations from works of an inexact and 
even fanciful description ; but here,' he added, * is 
another : " Othello's occupation 's gone." Yes, dear 
Somerset, it is gone ; I am no more a dynamiter ; 
and how, I ask you, after having tasted of these 
joys, am I to condescend to a less glorious life ? ' 

' I cannot describe how you relieve me,' returned 
Somerset, sitting down on one of several boxes that 
had been drawn out into the middle of the floor. ' I 
had conceived a sort of maudlin toleration for your 
character ; I have a great distaste, besides, for any- 
thing in the nature of a duty ; and upon both 
grounds, your news delights me. But I seem to 
268 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

perceive,' he added, 'a certain sound of ticking in 
this box.' 

' Yes,' replied Zero, with the same slow weariness 
of manner, ' I have set several of them going.' 

* My God ! ' cried Somerset, bounding to his feet. 
* Machines ? ' 

* Machines ! ' returned the plotter bitterly. * Ma- 
chines indeed ! I blush to be their author. Alas ! ' 
he said, burying his face in his hands, * that I should 
live to say it ! ' 

* Madman ! ' cried Somerset, shaking him by the 
arm. 'What am I to understand? Have you, 
indeed, set these diabolical contrivances in motion ? 
and do we stay here to be blown up ? ' 

* " Hoist with his own petard ? " ' returned the 
plotter musingly. * One more quotation : strange ! 
But indeed my brain is struck with numbness. Yes, 
dear boy, I have, as you say, put my contrivance in 
motion. The one on which you are sitting, I have 
timed for half an hour. Yon other ' 

' Half an hour ! ' echoed Somerset, dancing with 
trepidation. ' Merciful heavens, in half an hour ? ' 

' Dear fellow, why so much excitement ? ' inquired 
Zero. 'My dynamite is not more dangerous than 
toffy ; had I an only child, I would give it him to 
play with. You see this brick?' he continued, 
lifting a cake of the infernal compound from the 
laboratory-table. 'At a touch it should explode, 
and that with such unconquerable energy as should 
bestrew the square with ruins. ■ Well, now, behold ! 
I dash it on the floor.' 

269 



THE DYNAMITER 

Somerset sprang forward, and, with the strength of 
the very ecstasy of terror, wrested the brick from his 
possession. ' Heavens ! ' he cried, wiping his brow ; 
and then with more care than ever mother handled 
her first-born withal, gingerly transported the ex- 
plosive to the far end of the apartment : the plotter, 
his arms once more fallen to his side, dispiritedly 
watching him. 

'It was entirely harmless,' he sighed. 'They 
describe it as burning like tobacco.' 

'In the name of fortune,' cried Somerset, 'what 
have I done to you, or what have you done to your- 
self, that you should persist in this insane behaviour ? 
If not for your own sake, then for mine, let us 
depart from this doomed house, where I profess I 
have not the heart to leave you ; and then, if you 
will take my advice, and if your determination be 
sincere, you will instantly quit this city, where no 
further occupation can detain you.' 

' Such, dear fellow, was my own design,' replied 
the plotter. 'I have as you observe no further 
business here ; and once I have packed a little bag, 
I shall ask you to share a frugal meal, to go with me 
as far as to the station, and see the last of a broken- 
hearted man. And yet,' he added, looking on the 
boxes with a lingering regret, ' I should have liked 
to make quite certain. I cannot but suspect my 
underlings of some mismanagement; it may be 
fond, but yet I cherish that idea : it may be the 
weakness of a man of science, but yet,' he cried, 
rising into some energy, 'I will never, I cannot 
270 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

if I try, believe that my poor dynamite has had fair 
usage ! ' 

' Five minutes ! ' said Somerset, glancing with 
horror at the timepiece. * If you do not instantly 
buckle to your bag, I leave you.' 

'A few necessaries,' returned Zero, 'only a few 
necessaries, dear Somerset, and you behold me 
ready.' 

He passed into the bedroom, and after an interval 
which seemed to draw out into eternity for his un- 
fortunate companion, he returned, bearing in his 
hand an open Gladstone bag. His movements were 
still horribly deliberate, and his eyes lingered gloat- 
ingly on his dear boxes, as he moved to and fro 
about the drawing-room, gathering a few small 
trifles. Last of all, he lifted one of the squares 
of dynamite. 

' Put that down ! ' cried Somerset. ' If what you 
say be true, you have no call to load yourself with 
that ungodly contraband.' 

'Merely a curiosity, dear boy,' he said persua- 
sively, and slipped the brick into his bag ; ' merely a 
memento of the past — ah, happy past, bright past ! 
You will not take a touch of spirits ? no ? I find 
you very abstemious. Well,' he added, 'if you have 
really no curiosity to await the event ' 

' I ! ' cried Somerset. ' My blood boils to get 
away.' 

' Well, then,' said Zero, ' I am ready ; I would I 
could say, willing ; but thus to leave the scene of my 

sublime endeavours ' 

271 



THE DYNAMITER 

Without further parley, Somerset seized him by 
the arm, and dragged him downstairs ; the hall-door 
shut with a clang on the deserted mansion ; and still 
towing his laggardly companion, the young man 
sped across the square in the Oxford Street direction. 
They had not yet passed the corner of the garden, 
when they were arrested by a dull thud of an 
extraordinary amplitude of sound, accompanied and 
followed by a shattering fracas. Somerset turned in 
time to see the mansion rend in twain, vomit forth 
flames and smoke, and instantly collapse into its 
cellars. At the same moment, he was thrown 
violently to the ground. His first glance was to- 
wards Zero. The plotter had but reeled against 
the garden rail ; he stood there, the Gladstone bag 
clasped tight upon his heart, his whole face radiant 
with relief and gratitude ; and the young man heard 
him murmur to himself: 'Nunc dimittis, nunc 
dimittis ! ' 

The consternation of the populace was inde- 
scribable : the whole of Golden Square was alive with 
men, women, and children, running wildly to and 
fro, and, like rabbits in a warren, dashing in and 
out of the house doors, and under favour of this 
confusion, Somerset dragged away the lingering 
plotter. 

* It was grand,' he continued to murmur : * it was 
indescribably grand. Ah, green Erin, green Erin, 
what a day of glory ! and oh, my calumniated 
dynamite, how triumphantly hast thou prevailed ! ' 

Suddenly a shade crossed his face ; and pausing in 
272 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

the middle of the footway, he consulted the dial of 
his watch. 

' Good God ! ' he cried, ' how mortifying ! seven 
minutes too early! The dynamite surpassed my 
hopes ; but the clockwork, fickle clockwork, has once 
more betrayed me. Alas, can there be no success 
unmixed with failure ? and must even this red-letter 
day be chequered by a shadow ? ' 

' Incomparable ass ! ' said Somerset, * what have 
you done ? Blown up the house of an unoffending 
old lady, and the whole earthly property of the only 
person who is fool enough to befriend you ! ' 

'You do not understand these matters,' replied 
Zero, with an air of great dignity. ' This will shake 
England to the heart. Gladstone, the truculent 
old man, will quail before the pointing finger of 
revenge. And now that my dynamite is proved 
effective ' 

' Heavens, you remind me ! ' ejaculated Somerset. 
'That brick in your bag must be instantly dis- 
posed of. But how ? If we could throw it in the 
river ' 

'A torpedo,' cried Zero, brightening, 'a torpedo in 
the Thames ! Superb, dear fellow ! I recognise in 
you the marks of an accomplished anarch.' 

'True!' returned Somerset. 'It cannot so be 
done; and there is no help but you must carry it 
away with you. Come on, then, and let me at once 
consign you to a train.' 

' Nay, nay, dear boy,' protested Zero. ' There is 
now no call for me to leave. My character is now 
7— s 273 



THE DYNAMITER 

reinstated; my fame brightens; this is the best 
thing I have done yet; and I see from here the 
ovations that await the author of the Golden Square 
Atrocity.' 

'My young friend,' returned the other, ' I give you 
your choice. I will either see you safe on board a 
train or safe in gaol.' 

' Somerset, this is unlike you ! ' said the chymist. 
* You surprise me, Somerset.' 

' I shall considerably more surprise you at the next 
police office,' returned Somerset, with something 
bordering on rage. * For on one point my mind is 
settled: either I see you packed off to America, 
brick and all, or else you dine in prison.' 

'You have perhaps neglected one point,' returned 
the unoffended Zero : ' for, speaking as a philosopher, 
I fail to see what means you can employ to force me. 
The will, my dear fellow ' 

' Now, see here,' interrupted Somerset. ' You are 
ignorant of anything but science, which I can never 
regard as being truly knowledge ; I, sir, have studied 
life; and allow me to inform you that I have but 
to raise my hand and voice — here in this street — and 
the mob ' 

'Good God in Heaven, Somerset,' cried Zero, 
turning deadly white and stopping in his walk, ' great 
God in Heaven, what words^ are these ? Oh, not in 
jest, not even in jest, should they be used! The 
brutal mob, the savage passions. . . . Somerset, for 
God's sake, a public-house ! ' 

Somerset considered him with freshly awakened 

2 74 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

curiosity. * This is very interesting,' said he. ' You 
recoil from such a death ? ' 

* Who would not ? ' asked the plotter. 

' And to be blown up by dynamite,' inquired the 
young man, * doubtless strikes you as a form of 
euthanasia ? ' 

'Pardon me,' returned Zero : 'I own, and, since I 
have braved it daily in my professional career, I own 
it even with pride : it is a death unusually distasteful 
to the mind of man.' 

' One more question,' said Somerset : ' you object 
to Lynch Law ? why ? ' 

' It is assassination,' said the plotter calmly ; but 
with eyebrows a little lifted, as in wonder at the 
question. 

' Shake hands with me,' cried Somerset. ' Thank 
God, I have now no ill-feeling left; and though 
you cannot conceive how I burn to see you on 
the gallows, I can quite contentedly assist at your 
departure.' 

'I do not very clearly take your meaning,' said 
Zero, ' but I am sure you mean kindly. As to my 
departure, there is another point to be considered. 
I have neglected to supply myself with funds ; my 
little all has perished in what history will love to 
relate under the name of the Golden Square Atrocity ; 
and without what is coarsely if vigorously called 
stamps, you must be well aware it is impossible for 
me to pass the ocean.' 

' For me,' said Somerset, ' you have now ceased to 
be a man. You have no more claim upon me than 

275 



THE DYNAMITER 

a door scraper ; but the touching confusion of your 
mind disarms me from extremities. Until to-day, I 
always thought stupidity was funny ; I now know 
otherwise ; and when I look upon your idiot face, 
laughter rises within me like a deadly sickness, and 
the tears spring up into my eyes as bitter as blood. 
What should this portend ? I begin to doubt ; I am 
losing faith in scepticism. Is it possible,' he cried, in 
a kind of horror of himself — ' is it conceivable that 
I believe in right and wrong? Already I have 
found myself, with incredulous surprise, to be the 
victim of a prejudice of personal honour. And must 
this change proceed ? Have you robbed me of my 
youth? Must I fall, at my time of life, into the 
Common Banker ? But why should I address that 
head of wood ? Let this suffice. I dare not let you 
stay among women and children ; I lack the courage 
to denounce you, if by any means I may avoid it ; 
you have no money ; well then, take mine, and go ; 
and if ever I behold your face after to-day, that day 
will be your last.' 

' Under the circumstances,' replied Zero, ' I scarce 
see my way to refuse your offer. Your expressions 
may pain, they cannot surprise me ; I am aware our 
point of view requires a little training, a little moral 
hygiene, if I may so express it ; and one of the 
points that has always charmed me in your character 
is this delightful frankness. As for the small ad- 
vance, it shall be remitted you from Philadelphia.' 

' It shall not,' said Somerset. 

'Dear fellow, you do not understand,' returned 
276 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

the plotter. * I shall now be received with fresh con- 
fidence by my superiors ; and my experiments will be 
no longer hampered by pitiful conditions of the purse.' 

'What I am now about, sir, is a crime,' replied 
Somerset; 'and were you to roll in wealth like 
Vanderbilt, I should scorn to be reimbursed of money 
I had so scandalously misapplied. Take it, and keep 
it. By George, sir, three days of you have trans- 
formed me to an ancient Roman.' 

With these words, Somerset hailed a passing 
hansom ; and the pair were driven rapidly to the 
railway terminus. There, an oath having been 
exacted, the money changed hands. 

' And now,' said Somerset, ' I have bought back 
my honour with every penny I possess. And I 
thank God, though there is nothing before me but 
starvation, I am free from all entanglement with 
Mr. Zero Pumpernickel Jones.' 

' To starve ? ' cried Zero. ' Dear fellow, I cannot 
endure the thought.' 

f Take your ticket ! ' returned Somerset. 

* I think you display temper,' said Zero. 

' Take your ticket,' reiterated the young man. 

* Well,' said the plotter, as he returned, ticket in 
hand, ' your attitude is so strange and painful, that 
I scarce know if I should ask you to shake hands.' 

' As a man, no,' replied Somerset ; ' but I have no 
objection to shake hands with you, as I might with 
a pump-well that ran poison or hell-fire.' 

' This is a very cold parting,' sighed the dynamiter ; 
and still followed by Somerset, he began to descend 

277 



THE DYNAMITER 

the platform. This was now bustling with pas- 
sengers ; the train for Liverpool was just about to 
start, another had but recently arrived ; and the 
double tide made movement difficult. As the pair 
reached the neighbourhood of the bookstall, how- 
ever, they came into an open space ; and here the 
attention of the plotter was attracted by a Standard 
broadside bearing the words : ' Second Edition : 
Explosion in Golden Square.' His eye lighted ; 
groping in his pocket for the necessary coin, he 
sprang forward — his bag knocked sharply on the 
corner of the stall — and instantly, with a formidable 
report, the dynamite exploded. When the smoke 
cleared away the stall was seen much shattered, and 
the stall-keeper running forth in terror from the 
ruins ; but of the Irish patriot or the Gladstone bag 
no adequate remains were to be found. 

In the first scramble of the alarm, Somerset made 
good his escape, and came out upon the Euston 
Road, his head spinning, his body sick with hunger, 
and his pockets destitute of coin. Yet as he con- 
tinued to walk the pavements, he wondered to find 
in his heart a sort of peaceful exultation, a great 
content, a sense, as it were, of divine presence and 
the kindliness of fate ; and he was able to tell him- 
self that even if the worst befell, he could now starve 
with a certain comfort since Zero was expunged. 

Late in the afternoon he found himself at the door 
of Mr. Godall's shop ; and being quite unmanned by 
his long fast, and scarce considering what he did, he 
opened the glass door and entered. 
278 



THE SUPERFLUOUS MANSION 

< Ha ! ' said Mr. Godall, ' Mr. Somerset ! Well, 
have you met with an adventure? Have you the 
promised story ? Sit down, if you please ; suffer me 
to choose you a cigar of my own special brand ; and 
reward me with a narrative in your best style.' 

' I must not take a cigar,' said Somerset. 

« Indeed ! ' said Mr. Godall. ' But now I come to 
look at you more closely, I perceive that you are 
changed. My poor boy, I hope there is nothing 
wrong ? ' 

Somerset burst into tears. 



279 



THE DYNAMITER 



EPILOGUE OF THE CIGAR DIVAN 

On a certain day of lashing rain in the December of 
last year, and between the hours of nine and ten in 
the morning, Mr. Edward Challoner pioneered him- 
self under an umbrella to the door of the Cigar 
Divan in Rupert Street. It was a place he had 
visited but once before : the memory of what had 
followed on that visit and the fear of Somerset 
having prevented his return. Even now, he looked 
in before he entered ; but the shop was free of 
customers. 

The young man behind the counter was so intently 
writing in a penny version-book, that he paid* no 
heed to Challoner's arrival. On a second glance, it 
seemed to the latter that he recognised him. 

• By Jove,' he thought, 'unquestionably Somerset!' 
And though this was the very man he had been 

so sedulously careful to avoid, his unexplained posi- 
tion at the receipt of custom changed distaste to 
curiosity. 

• " Or opulent rotunda strike the sky," ' said the 
shopman to himself, in the tone of one considering 
a verse. * I suppose it would be too much to say 

280 



THE CIGAR DIVAN 

" orotunda," and yet how noble it were ! " Or 
opulent orotunda strike the sky." But that is the 
bitterness of arts ; you see a good effect, and some 
nonsense about sense continually intervenes.' 

* Somerset, my dear fellow,' said Challoner, e is this 
a masquerade ? ' 

' What ? Challoner ! ' cried the shopman. ' I am 
delighted to see you. One moment, till I finish the 
octave of my sonnet : only the octave.' And with 
a friendly waggle of the hand, he once more buried 
himself in the commerce of the Muses. ' I say,' he 
said presently, looking up, ' you seem in wonderful 
preservation : how about the hundred pounds ? ' 

* I have made a small inheritance from a great aunt 
in Wales,' replied Challoner modestly. 

' Ah,' said Somerset, ' 1 very much doubt the 
legitimacy of inheritance. The State, in my view, 
should collar it. I am now going through a stage 
of socialism and poetry,' he added apologetically, as 
one who spoke of a course of medicinal waters. 

' And are you really the person of the — establish- 
ment ? ' inquired Challoner, deftly evading the word 
* shop.' 

'A vendor, sir, a vendor,' returned the other, 
pocketing his poesy. ' I help old Happy and 
Glorious. Can I offer you a weed ? ' 

' Well, I scarcely like . . .' began Challoner. 

'Nonsense, my dear fellow,' cried the shopman. 
' We are very proud of the business ; and the old 
man, let me inform you, besides being the most 
egregious of created beings from the point of view 

281 



THE DYNAMITER 

of ethics, is literally sprung from the loins of kings. 
" De Godall je suis le fervent" There is only one 
Godall. — By the way,' he added, as Challoner lit 
his cigar, ' how did you get on with the detective 
trade ? ' 

' I did not try,' said Challoner curtly. 

'Ah, well, I did,' returned Somerset, 'and made 
the most incomparable mess of it : lost all my money 
and fairly covered myself with odium and ridicule. 
There is more in that business, Challoner, than 
meets the eye ; there is more, in fact, in all businesses. 
You must believe in them, or get up the belief that 
you believe. Hence,' he added, ' the recognised in- 
feriority of the plumber, for no one could believe in 
plumbing.' 

■ A proposj asked Challoner, ' do you still paint ? ' 

' Not now,' replied Paul ; ' but I think of taking 
up the violin.' 

Challoner's eye, which had been somewhat restless 
since the trade of the detective had been named, 
now rested for a moment on the columns of the 
morning paper, where it lay spread upon the counter. 

' By Jove,' he cried, ' that 's odd ! ' 

' What is odd ? ' asked Paul. 

'Oh, nothing,' returned the other: 'only I once 
met a person called M'Guire.' 

' So did I ! ' cried Somerset. ' Is there anything 
about him ? ' 

Challoner read as follows : ' Mysterious death in 
Stepney. An inquest was held yesterday on the 
body of Patrick M'Guire, described as a carpenter. 
282 



THE CIGAR DIVAN 

Doctor Dovering stated that he had for some time 
treated the deceased as a dispensary patient, for 
sleeplessness, loss of appetite, and nervous depression; 
there was no cause of death to be found. He would 
say the deceased had sunk. Deceased was not a 
temperate man, which doubtless accelerated death. 
Deceased complained of dumb ague, but witness had 
never been able to detect any positive disease. He 
did not know that he had any family. He regarded 
him as a person of unsound intellect, who believed 
himself a member and the victim of some secret 
society. If he were to hazard an opinion, he would 
say deceased had died of fear.' 

4 And the doctor would be right,' cried Somerset ; 
'■ and my dear Challoner, I am so relieved to hear of 

his demise, that I will Wei], after all,' he added, 

'poor devil, he was well served.' 

The door at this moment opened, and Desborough 
appeared upon the threshold. He was wrapped in a 
long waterproof, imperfectly supplied with buttons ; 
his boots were full of water, his hat greasy with 
service ; and yet he wore the air of one exceeding 
well content with life. He was hailed by the two 
others with exclamations of surprise and welcome. 

' And did you try the detective business ? ' in- 
quired Paul. 

' No,' returned Harry. ' Oh yes, by the way, I did 
though : twice, and got caught out both times. But 
I thought I should find my — my wife here ? ' he 
added, with a kind of proud confusion. 

* What ? are you married ? ' cried Somerset. 

283 



THE DYNAMITER 

* Oh yes,' said Harry, ' quite a long time : a month 
at least.' 

' Money ? ' asked Challoner. 

' That 's the worst of it,' Desborough admitted. 
* We are deadly hard up. But the Pri — Mr. Godall 
is going to do something for us. That is what brings 
us here.' 

' Who was Mrs. Desborough ? ' said Challoner, 
in the tone of a man of society. 

' She was a Miss Luxmore,' returned Harry. ' You 
fellows will be sure to like her, for she is much 
cleverer than I. She tells wonderful stories, too ; 
better than a book.' 

And just then the door opened, and Mrs. Des- 
borough entered. Somerset cried out aloud to 
recognise the young lady of the Superfluous Man- 
sion, and Challoner fell back a step and dropped his 
cigar as he beheld the sorceress of Chelsea. 

' What ! ' cried Harry, ' do you both know my 
wife ? ' 

' I believe I have seen her,' said Somerset, a little 
wildly. 

' I think I have met the gentleman,' said Mrs. 
Desborough sweetly ; * but I cannot imagine where 
it was.' 

' Oh no,' cried Somerset fervently ; ' I have no 
notion — I cannot conceive — where it could have 
been. Indeed,' he continued, growing in emphasis, 
' I think it highly probable that it 's a mistake.' 

' And you, Challoner ? ' asked Harry, ' you seemed 
to recognise her, too.' 
284 



THE CIGAR DIVAN 

* These are both friends of yours, Harry ? ' said the 
lady. * Delighted, I am sure. I do not remember 
to have met Mr. Challoner.' 

Challoner was very red in the face, perhaps from 
having groped after his cigar. ' I do not remember 
to have had the pleasure,' he responded huskily. 

' Well, and Mr. Godall ? ' asked Mrs. Desborough. 

* Are you the lady that has an appointment with 
old . . .' began Somerset, and paused, blushing. 
* Because if so,' he resumed, ' I was to announce you 
at once.' 

And the shopman raised a curtain, opened a door, 
and passed into a small pavilion which had been 
added to the back of the house. On the roof, the 
rain resounded musically. The walls were lined with 
maps and prints and a few works of reference. Upon 
a table was a large-scale map of Egypt and the 
Soudan, and another of Tonkin, on which, by the 
aid of coloured pins, the progress of the different 
wars was being followed day by day. A light, re- 
freshing odour of the most delicate tobacco hung 
upon the air ; and a fire, not of foul coal, but of clear- 
flaming resinous billets, chattered upon silver dogs. 
In this elegant and plain apartment, Mr. Godall sat 
in a morning muse, placidly gazing at the fire and 
hearkening to the rain upon the roof. 

' Ha, my dear Mr. Somerset,' said he, ' and have 
you since last night adopted any fresh political 
principle ? ' 

* The lady, sir,' said Somerset, with another blush. 
'You have seen her, I believe?' returned Mr. 

285 



THE DYNAMITER 

Godall ; and on Somerset's replying in the affirma- 
tive : ' You will excuse me, my dear sir,' he resumed, 
* if I offer you a hint. I think it not improbable 
this lady may desire entirely to forget the past. 
From one gentleman to another, no more words are 
necessary.' 

A moment after, he had received Mrs. Desborough 
with that grave and touching urbanity that so well 
became him. 

' I am pleased, madam, to welcome you to my poor 
house,' he said ; * and shall be still more so, if what 
were else a barren courtesy and a pleasure personal 
to myself shall prove to be of serious benefit to you 
and Mr. Desborough.' 

' Your Highness,' replied Clara, ' I must begin with 
thanks ; it is like what I have heard of you, that you 
should thus take up the case of the unfortunate ; and 
as for my Harry, he is worthy of all that you can do. ' 
She paused. 

* But for yourself? ' suggested Mr. Godall — ' it was 
thus you were about to continue, I believe.' 

'■ You take the words out of my mouth,' she said. 
' For myself, it is different.' 

' I am not here to be a judge of men,' replied the 
Prince ; ' still less of women. I am now a private 
person like yourself and many million others ; but I 
am one who still fights upon the side of quiet. Now, 
madam, you know better than I, and God better 
than you, what you have done to mankind in the 
past ; I pause not to inquire ; it is with the future 
I concern myself, it is for the future I demand 
286 



THE CIGAR DIVAN 

security. I would not willingly put arms into the 
hands of a disloyal combatant ; and I dare not re- 
store to wealth one of the levyers of a private and 
a barbarous war. I speak with some severity, and 
yet I pick my terms. I tell myself continually that 
you are a woman ; and a voice continually reminds 
me of the children whose lives and limbs you have 
endangered. A woman,' he repeated solemnly — 
' and children. Possibly, madam, when you are 
yourself a mother, you will feel the bite of that 
antithesis : possibly when you kneel at night beside 
a cradle, a fear will fall upon you, heavier than any 
shame ; and when your child lies in the pain and 
danger of disease, you shall hesitate to kneel before 
your Maker.' 

' You look at the fault,' she said, ' and not at the 
excuse. Has your own heart never leaped within you 
at some story of oppression ? But, alas, no ! for you 
were born upon a throne.' 

' I was born of woman,' said the Prince ; ' I came 
forth from my mother's agony, helpless as a wren, 
like other nurslings. This, which you forgot, I 
have still faithfully remembered. Is it not one of 
your English poets, that looked abroad upon the 
earth and saw vast circumvallations, innumerable 
troops manoeuvring, warships at sea, and a great dust 
of battles on shore ; and, casting anxiously about for 
what should be the cause of so many and painful pre- 
parations, spied at last, in the centre of all, a mother 
and her babe ? These, madam, are my politics ; and 
the verses, which are by Mr. Coventry Patmore, I 

287 



THE DYNAMITER 

have caused to be translated into the Bohemian 
tongue. Yes, these are my politics : to change what 
we can, to better what we can : but still to bear in 
mind that man is but a devil weakly fettered by 
some generous beliefs and impositions ; and for no 
word however nobly sounding, and no cause how- 
ever just and pious, to relax the stricture of these 
bonds.' 

There was a silence of a moment. 

* I fear, madam,' resumed the Prince, ' that I but 
weary you. My views are formal like myself ; and 
like myself, they also begin to grow old. But I 
must still trouble you for some reply.' 

' I can say but one thing,' said Mrs. Desborough : 
' I love my husband.' 

' It is a good answer,' returned the Prince ; ' and 
you name a good influence, but one that need not be 
conterminous with life.' 

' I will not play at pride with such a man as you,' 
she answered. ' What do you ask of me ? not pro- 
testations, I am sure. What shall I say ? I have 
done much that I cannot defend and that I would 
not do again. Can I say more ? Yes : I can say 
this : I never abused myself with the muddle-headed 
fairy tales of politics. I was at least prepared to 
meet reprisals. While I was levying war myself — 
or levying murder, if you choose the plainer term — I 
never accused my adversaries of assassination. I 
never felt or feigned a righteous horror, when a 
price was put upon my life by those whom I attacked. 
I never called the policeman a hireling. I may 
288 



THE CIGAR DIVAN 

have been a criminal, in short ; but I never was a 
fool.' 

* Enough, madam,' returned the Prince: 'more 
than enough ! Your words are most reviving to my 
spirits ; for in this age, when even the assassin is 
a sentimentalist, there is no virtue greater in my 
eyes than intellectual clarity. Suffer me then to 
ask you to retire ; for by the signal of that bell, 
I perceive my old friend, your mother, to be 
close at hand. With her I promise you to do my 
utmost.' 

And as Mrs. Desborough returned to the Divan, 
the Prince, opening a door upon the other side, 
admitted Mrs. Luxmore. 

' Madam and my very good friend,' said he, 'is my 
face so much changed that you no longer recognise 
Prince Florizel in Mr. Godall ? ' 

' To be sure ! ' she cried, looking at him through 
her glasses. ' I have always regarded your Highness 
as a perfect man ; and in your altered circumstances, 
of which I have already heard with deep regret, I 
will beg you to consider my respect increased instead 
of lessened.' 

'I have found it so,' returned the Prince, 'with 
every class of my acquaintance. But, madam, I pray 
you to be seated. My business is of a delicate order 
and regards your daughter.' 

' In that case,' said Mrs. Luxmore, ' you may save 
yourself the trouble of speaking, for I have fully 
made up my mind to have nothing to do with her. 
I will not hear one word in her defence ; but as I 

7— T 289 



THE DYNAMITER 

value nothing so particularly as the virtue of justice, 
I think it my duty to explain to you the grounds of 
my complaint. She deserted me, her natural pro- 
tector ; for years she has consorted with the most 
disreputable persons ; and, to fill the cup of her 
offence, she has recently married. I refuse to see 
her, or the being to whom she has linked herself. 
One hundred and twenty pounds a year, I have 
always offered her: I offer it again. It is what I 
had myself when I was her age.' 

* Very well, madam,' said the Prince ; ' and be 
that so ! But to touch upon another matter : 
what was the income of the Reverend Bernard 
Fanshawe ? ' 

' My father ? ' asked the spirited old lady. ' I 
believe he had seven hundred pounds in the year.' 

* You were one, I think, of several ? ' pursued the 
Prince. 

' Of four,' was the reply. ' We were four daughters ; 
and, painful as the admission is to make, a more 
detestable family could scarce be found in England.' 

' Dear me ! ' said the Prince. * And you, madam, 
have an income of eight thousand ? ' 

' Not more than five,' returned the old lady ; ' but 
where on earth are you conducting me ? ' 

* To an allowance of one thousand pounds a year,' 
replied Florizel, smiling. * For I must not suffer you 
to take your father for a rule. He was poor, you 
are rich. He had many calls upon his poverty : 
there are none upon your wealth. And indeed, 
madam, if you will let me touch this matter with a 

290 



THE CIGAR DIVAN 

needle, there is but one point in common to your two 
positions : that each had a daughter more remarkable 
for liveliness than duty.' 

8 1 have been entrapped into this house,' said the 
old lady, getting to her feet. * But it shall not avail. 
Not all the tobacconists in Europe . . .' 

* Ah, madam,' interrupted Florizel, ' before what is 
referred to as my fall, you had not used such lan- 
guage ! And since you so much object to the simple 
industry by which I live, let me give you a friendly 
hint. If you will not consent to support your 
daughter, I shall be constrained to place that lady 
behind my counter, where I doubt not she would 
prove a great attraction ; and your son-in-law shall 
have a livery and run the errands. With such 
young blood my business might be doubled, and I 
might be bound, in common gratitude, to place the 
name of Luxmore beside that of Godall.' 

* Your Highness,' said the old lady, ' I have been 
very rude, and you are very cunning. I suppose the 
minx is on the premises. Produce her.' 

* Let us rather observe them unperceived,' said the 
Prince ; and so saying he rose and quietly drew back 
the curtain. 

Mrs. Desborough sat with her back to them on a 
chair ; Somerset and Harry were hanging on her 
words with extraordinary interest ; Challoner, alleg- 
ing some affair, had long ago withdrawn from the 
detested neighbourhood of the enchantress. 

'At that moment,' Mrs. Desborough was saying, 
' Mr. Gladstone detected the features of his cowardly 

291 



THE DYNAMITER 

assailant. A cry rose to his lips : a cry of mingled 
triumph . . .' 

' That is Mr. Somerset ! ' interrupted the spirited 
old lady, in the highest note of her register. ' Mr. 
Somerset, what have you done with my house- 
property ? ' 

* Madam,' said the Prince, ' let it be mine to give 
the explanation ; and in the meanwhile, welcome 
your daughter.' 

' Well, Clara, how do you do ? ' said Mrs. Luxmore. 
'It appears I am to give you an allowance. So 
much the better for you. As for Mr. Somerset, I 
am very ready to have an explanation ; for the whole 
affair, though costly, was eminently humorous. And 
at any rate,' she added, nodding to Paul, 'he is a 
young gentleman for whom I have a great affection, 
and his pictures were the funniest I ever saw.' 

' I have ordered a collation,' said the Prince. 
' Mr. Somerset, as these are all your friends, I pro- 
pose, if you please, that you should join them at 
table. I will take the shop.' 



292 



THE STORY 
OF A LIE 



Originally published ; 

New Quarterly Magazine, 1879. 
Now reprinted for the first time. 



CHAPTER 

I. Introduces the Admiral . 


PAGE 

. 297 


ii. 


A Letter to the Papers . 


304 


in. 


In the Admiral's Name . 


. 311 


IV. 


Esther on the Filial Relation 


. 320 



v. The Prodigal Father makes his debut 

at Home .... 324 

vi. The Prodigal Father goes on from 

Strength to Strength . . . 333 

vii. The Elopement .... 346 

viii. Battle Royal .... 359 

ix. In which the Liberal Editor appears as 

Deus ex machina . . . 370 



295 



THE STORY OF A LIE 
CHAPTER I 

INTRODUCES THE ADMIRAL 

When Dick Naseby was in Paris he made some odd 
acquaintances, for he was one of those who have 
ears to hear, and can use their eyes no less than 
their intelligence. He made as many thoughts as 
Stuart Mill ; but his philosophy concerned flesh and 
blood, and was experimental as to its method. He 
was a type-hunter among mankind. He despised 
small game and insignificant personalities, whether 
in the shape of dukes or bagmen, letting them go 
by like sea- weed ; but show him a refined or power- 
ful face, let him hear a plangent or a penetrating 
voice, fish for him with a living look in some one's 
eye, a passionate gesture, a meaning or ambiguous 
smile, and his mind was instantaneously awakened. 
' There was a man, there was a woman,' he seemed 
to say, and he stood up to the task of comprehen- 
sion with the delight of an artist in his art. 

And indeed, rightly considered, this interest of 
his was an artistic interest. There is no science in 
the personal study of human nature. All com- 

297 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

prehension is creation ; the woman I love is some- 
what of my handiwork ; and the great lover, like the 
great painter, is he that can so embellish his subject 
as to make her more than human, whilst yet by a 
cunning art he has so based his apotheosis on the 
nature of the case that the woman can go on being 
a true woman, and give her character free play, and 
show littleness, or cherish spite, or be greedy of 
common pleasures, and he continue to worship 
without a thought of incongruity. To love a 
character is only the heroic way of understanding 
it. When we love, by some noble method of our 
own or some nobility of mien or nature in the other, 
we apprehend the loved one by what is noblest in 
ourselves. When we are merely studying an ec- 
centricity, the method of our study is but a series 
of allowances. To begin to understand is to begin 
to sympathise ; for comprehension comes only when 
we have stated another's faults and virtues in terms 
of our own. Hence the proverbial toleration of 
artists for their own evil creations. Hence, too, it 
came about that Dick Naseby, a high-minded crea- 
ture, and as scrupulous and brave a gentleman as 
you would want to meet, held in a sort of affection 
the various human creeping things whom he had 
met and studied. 

One of these was Mr. Peter Van Tromp, an 
English-speaking, two-legged animal of the inter- 
national genus, and by profession of general and 
more than equivocal utility. Years before he had 
been a painter of some standing in a colony, and 
298 



INTRODUCES THE ADMIRAL 

portraits signed ' Van Tromp ' had celebrated the 
greatness of colonial governors and judges. In those 
days he had been married, and driven his wife and 
infant daughter in a pony trap. What were the 
steps of his declension? No one exactly knew. 
Here he was at least, and had been, any time these 
past ten years, a sort of dismal parasite upon the 
foreigner in Paris. 

It would be hazardous to specify his exact in- 
dustry. Coarsely followed, it would have merited a 
name grown somewhat unfamiliar to our ears. Fol- 
lowed as he followed it, with a skilful reticence, m a 
kind of social chiaroscuro, it was still possible for 
the polite to call him a professional painter. His 
lair was in the Grand Hotel and the gaudiest cafe's. 
There he might be seen jotting off a sketch with an 
air of some inspiration ; and he was always affable, 
and one of the easiest of men to fall in talk withal. 
A conversation usually ripened into a peculiar sort of 
intimacy, and it was extraordinary how many little 
services Van Tromp contrived to render in the 
course of six -and- thirty hours. He occupied a posi- 
tion between a friend and a courier, which made 
him worse than embarrassing to repay. But those 
whom he obliged could always buy one of his vil- 
lainous little pictures, or, where the favours had 
been prolonged and more than usually delicate, 
might order and pay for a large canvas, with perfect 
certainty that they would hear no more of the trans- 
action. 

Among resident artists he enjoyed the celebrity 

299 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

of a non-professional sort. He had spent more 
money — no less than three individual fortunes, it 
was whispered — than any of his associates could ever 
hope to gain. Apart from his colonial career, he 
had been to Greece in a brigantine with four brass 
carronades ; he had travelled Europe in a chaise- 
and-four, drawing bridle at the palace doors of 
German princes ; queens of song and dance had 
followed him like sheep and paid his tailor's bills. 
And to behold him now, seeking small loans with 
plaintive condescension, sponging for breakfast on 
an art-student of nineteen, a fallen Don Juan who 
had neglected to die at the propitious hour, had a 
colour of romance for young imaginations. His 
name and his bright past, seen through the prism 
of whispered gossip, had gained him the nickname of 
The Admiral. 

Dick found him one day at the receipt of custom, 
rapidly painting a pair of hens and a cock in a little 
water-colour sketching box, and now and then 
glancing at the ceiling like a man who should seek 
inspiration from the muse. Dick thought it remark- 
able that a painter should choose to work over an 
absinthe in a public cafe, and looked the man over. 
The aged rakishness of his appearance was set off by 
a youthful costume ; he had disreputable grey hair 
and a disreputable, sore, red nose ; but the coat and 
the gesture, the outworks of the man, were still 
designed for show. Dick came up to his table and 
inquired if he might look at what the gentleman 
was doing. No one was so delighted as the Admiral. 
300 



INTRODUCES THE ADMIRAL 

*■ A bit of a thing,' said he. ' I just dash them off 
like that. I — I dash them off,' he added, with a 
gesture. 

'Quite so,' said Dick, who was appalled by the 
feebleness of the production. 

* Understand me,' continued Van Tromp, 'lama 
man of the world. And yet— once an artist always 
an artist. All of a sudden a thought takes me in 
the street ; I become its prey ; it 's like a pretty 
woman ; no use to struggle ; I must — dash it off. ' 

' I see,' said Dick. 

' Yes,' pursued the painter ; ' it all comes easily, 
easily to me ; it is not my business ; it 's a pleasure. 
Life is my business — life — this great city, Paris — 
Paris after dark — its lights, its gardens, its odd 
corners. Aha ! ' he cried, ' to be young again ! The 
heart is young, but the heels are leaden. A poor, 
mean business, to grow old ! Nothing remains but 
the coup cTceil, the contemplative man's enjoyment, 
Mr. ,' and he paused for the name. 

' Naseby,' returned Dick. 

The other treated him at once to an exciting 
beverage, and expatiated on the pleasure of meeting 
a compatriot in a foreign land ; to hear him you 
would have thought they had encountered in Central 
Africa. Dick had never found any one take a fancy 
to him so readily, nor show it in an easier or less 
offensive manner. He seemed tickled with him as 
an elderly fellow about town might be tickled by a 
pleasant and witty lad ; he indicated that he was no 
precisian, but in his wildest times had never been 

301 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

such a blade as he thought Dick. Dick protested, 
but in vain. This manner of carrying an intimacy 
at the bayonet's point was Van Tromp's stock-in- 
trade. With an older man he insinuated himself; 
with youth he imposed himself, and in the same 
breath imposed an ideal on his victim, who saw that 
he must work up to it or lose the esteem of this old 
and vicious patron. And what young man can bear 
to lose a character for vice ? 

At last, as it grew towards dinner-time, ' Do you 
know Paris ? ' asked Van Tromp. 

* Not so well as you, I am convinced,' said Dick. 

'And so am I,' returned Van Tromp gaily. 
' Paris ! My young friend — you will allow me ? — 
when you know Paris as I do, you will have seen 
Strange Things. I say no more ; all I say is, 
Strange Things. We are men of the world, you and 
I, and in Paris, in the heart of civilised existence. 
This is an opportunity, Mr. Naseby. Let us dine. 
Let me show you where to dine.' 

Dick consented. On the way to dinner the 
Admiral showed him where to buy gloves, and 
made him buy them ; where to buy cigars, and 
made him buy a vast store, some of which he oblig- 
ingly accepted. At the restaurant he showed him 
what to order, with surprising consequences in the 
bill. What he made that night by his percentages 
it would be hard to estimate. And all the while 
Dick smilingly consented, understanding well that 
he was being done, but taking his losses in the pur- 
suit of character as a hunter sacrifices his dogs. As 
302 



INTRODUCES THE ADMIRAL 

for the Strange Things, the reader will be relieved 
to hear that they were no stranger than might have 
been expected, and he may find things quite as 
strange without the expense of a Van Tromp for 
guide. Yet he was a guide of no mean order, who 
made up for the poverty of what he had to show by 
a copious, imaginative commentary. 

' And such,' said he, with a hiccup, ' such is 
Paris.' 

* Pooh ! ' said Dick, who was tired of the per- 
formance. 

The Admiral hung an ear, and looked up sidelong 
with a glimmer of suspicion. 

* Good-night,' said Dick ; ' I 'm tired.' 

' So English ! ' cried Van Tromp, clutching him 
by the hand. 'So English! So blase \ Such a 
charming companion ! Let me see you home.' 

' Look here,' returned Dick, ' I have said good- 
night, and now I 'm going. You 're an amusing old 
boy ; I like you, in a sense ; but here's an end of it 
for to-night. Not another cigar, not another grog, 
not another percentage out of me.' 

' I beg your pardon ! ' cried the Admiral with 
dignity. 

' Tut, man ! ' said Dick ; ' you 're not offended ; 
you 're a man of the world, I thought. I 've been 
studying you, and it's over. Have I not paid for 
the lesson ? Au revoir.' 

Van Tromp laughed gaily, shook hands up to the 
elbows, hoped cordially they would meet again and 
that often, but looked after Dick as he departed 

303 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

with a tremor of indignation. After that they two 
not unfrequently fell in each other's way, and Dick 
would often treat the old boy to breakfast on a 
moderate scale and in a restaurant of his own selec- 
tion. Often, too, he would lend Van Tromp the 
matter of a pound, in view of that gentleman's 
contemplated departure for Australia ; there would 
be a scene of farewell almost touching in character, 
and a week or a month later they would meet on 
the same boulevard without surprise or embarrass- 
ment. And in the meantime Dick learned more 
about his acquaintance on all sides ; heard of his 
yacht, his chaise-and-four, his brief season of celeb- 
rity amid a more confiding population, his daughter, 
of whom he loved to whimper in his cups, his sponge- 
ing, parasitical, nameless way of life ; and with each 
new detail something that was not merely interest 
nor yet altogether affection grew up in his mind 
towards this disreputable stepson of the arts. Ere 
he left Paris Van Tromp was one of those whom he 
entertained to a farewell supper ; and the old gentle- 
man made the speech of the evening, and then fell 
below the table, weeping, smiling, paralysed. 



CHAPTER II 

A LETTER TO THE PAPERS 

Old Mr. Naseby had the sturdy, untutored nature 
of the upper middle class. The universe seemed 
304 



A LETTER TO THE PAPERS 

plain to him. ' The thing 's right/ he would say, or 
' the thing 's wrong ' ; and there was an end of it. 
There was a contained, prophetic energy in his 
utterances, even on the slightest affairs ; he saw the 
damned thing ; if you did not, it must be from per- 
versity of will ; and this sent the blood to his head. 
Apart from this, which made him an exacting 
companion, he was one of the most upright, hot- 
tempered old gentlemen in England. Florid, with 
white hair, the face of an old Jupiter, and the figure 
of an old fox-hunter, he enlivened the Vale of 
Thyme from end to end on his big, cantering 
chestnut. 

He had a hearty respect for Dick as a lad of parts. 
Dick had a respect for his father as the best of men, 
tempered by the politic revolt of a youth who has 
to see to his own independence. Whenever the 
pair argued, they came to an open rupture ; and 
arguments were frequent, for they were both posi- 
tive, and both loved the work of the intelligence. 
It was a treat to hear Mr. Naseby defending the 
Church of England in a volley of oaths, or supporting 
ascetic morals with an enthusiasm not entirely inno- 
cent of port wine. Dick used to wax indignant, 
and none the less so because, as his father was a 
skilful disputant, he found himself not seldom in 
the wrong. On these occasions he would redouble 
in energy, and declare that black was white, and 
blue yellow, with much conviction and heat of 
manner ; but in the morning such a licence of debate 
weighed upon him like a crime, and he would seek 
7— u 305 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

out his father, where he walked before breakfast on 
a terrace overlooking all the vale of Thyme. 

' I have to apologise, sir, for last night ' he 

would begin. 

'Of course you have,' the old gentleman would 
cut in cheerfully. ' You spoke like a fool. Say no 
more about it.' 

'You do not understand me, sir. I refer to a 
particular point. I confess there is much force in 
your argument from the doctrine of possibilities.' 

' Of course there is,' returned his father. ' Come 
down and look at the stables. Only,' he would add, 
' bear this in mind, and do remember that a man of 
my age and experience knows more about what he 
is saying than a raw boy.' 

He would utter the word ' boy ' even more offen- 
sively than the average of fathers, and the light way 
in which he accepted these apologies cut Dick to 
the heart. The latter drew slighting comparisons, 
and remembered that he was the only one who ever 
apologised. This gave him a high station in his own 
esteem, and thus contributed indirectly to his better 
behaviour ; for he was scrupulous as well as high- 
spirited, and prided himself on nothing more than 
on a just submission. 

So things went on until the famous occasion when 
Mr. Naseby, becoming engrossed in securing the 
election of a sound party candidate to Parliament, 
wrote a flaming letter to the papers. The letter had 
about every demerit of party letters in general : it 
was expressed with the energy of a believer ; it was 
306 



A LETTER TO THE PAPERS 

personal ; it was a little more than half unfair, and 
about a quarter untrue. The old man did not mean 
to say what was untrue, you may be sure ; but 
he had rashly picked up gossip, as his prejudice 
suggested, and now rashly launched it on the public 
with the sanction of his name. 

* The Liberal candidate,' he concluded, ' is thus a 
public turncoat. Is that the sort of man we want ? 
He has been given the lie, and has swallowed the 
insult. Is that the sort of man we want ? I 
answer, No ! With all the force of my conviction, 
I answer, Wo ! ' 

And then he signed and dated the letter with an 
amateur's pride, and looked to be famous by the 
morrow. 

Dick, who had heard nothing of the matter, was 
up first on that inauspicious day, and took the 
journal to an arbour in the garden. He found his 
father's manifesto in one column ; and in another 
a leading article. 'No one that we are aware of,' 
ran the article, 'had consulted Mr. Naseby on the 
subject, but if he had been appealed to by the whole 
body of electors, his letter would be none the less 
ungenerous and unjust to Mr. Dalton. We do not 
choose to give the lie to Mr. Naseby, for we are too 
well aware of the consequences ; but we shall venture 
instead to print the facts of both cases referred to by 
this red-hot partisan in another portion of our issue. 
Mr. Naseby is of course a large proprietor in our 
neighbourhood ; but fidelity to facts, decent feeling, 
and English grammar, are all of them qualities more 

307 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

important than the possession of land. Mr. N 

is doubtless a great man ; in his large gardens and 
that half mile of greenhouses, where he has probably 
ripened his intellect and temper, he may say what 
he will to his hired vassals, but (as the Scots say) — 

here 
He maunna think to domineer. 

Liberalism,' continued the anonymous journalist, * is 
of too free and sound a growth,' etc. 

Richard Naseby read the whole thing from begin- 
ning to end ; and a crushing shame fell upon his 
spirit. His father had played the fool ; he had gone 
out noisily to war, and come back with confusion. 
The moment that his trumpets sounded, he had 
been disgracefully unhorsed. There was no question 
as to the facts ; they were one and all against the 
Squire. Richard would have given his ears to have 
suppressed the issue ; but as that could not be 
done, he had his horse saddled, and, furnishing 
himself with a convenient staff, rode off at once to 
Thymebury. 

The editor was at breakfast in a large, sad 
apartment. The absence of furniture, the extreme 
meanness of the meal, and the haggard, bright-eyed, 
consumptive look of the culprit, unmanned our hero ; 
but he clung to his stick, and was stout and warlike. 

' You wrote the article in this morning's paper ? ' 
he demanded. 

' You are young Mr. Naseby ? I published it,' 
replied the editor, rising. 
308 



A LETTER TO THE PAPERS 

' My father is an old man,' said Richard ; and then 
with an outburst, ' And a damned sight finer fellow 
than either you or Dalton ! ' He stopped and 
swallowed; he was determined that all should go 
with regularity. ' I have but one question to put to 
you, sir,' he resumed. ' Granted that my father was 
misinformed, would it not have been more decent 
to withhold the letter and communicate with him in 
private ? ' 

* Believe me,' returned the editor, * that alternative 
was not open to me. Mr. Naseby told me in a note 
that he had sent his letter to three other journals, 
and in fact threatened me with what he called 
exposure if I kept it back from mine. I am really 
concerned at what has happened ; I sympathise and 
approve of your emotion, young gentleman ; but the 
attack on Mr. Dalton was gross, very gross, and I 
had no choice but to offer him my columns to reply. 
Party has its duties, sir,' added the scribe, kindling, 
as one who should propose a sentiment; 'and the 
attack was gross.' 

Richard stood for half a minute digesting the 
answer; and then the god of fairplay came upper- 
most in his heart, and, murmuring ' Good-morning,' 
he made his escape into the street. 

His horse was not hurried on the way home, and 
he was late for breakfast. The Squire was standing 
with his back to the fire in a state bordering on 
apoplexy, his fingers violently knitted under his coat- 
tails. As Richard came in, he opened and shut his 
mouth like a cod-fish, and his eyes protruded. 

309 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

' Have you seen that, sir ? ' he cried, nodding 
towards the paper. 

* Yes, sir,' said Richard. 

' Oh, you 've read it, have you ? ' 

'Yes; I have read it,' replied Richard, looking at 
his foot. 

' Well,' demanded the old gentleman, ' and what 
have you to say to it, sir ? ' 

' You seem to have been misinformed,' said Dick. 

'Well? What then? Is your mind so sterile, sir? 
Have you not a word of comment ? no proposal ? ' 

'I fear, sir, you must apologise to Mr. Dalton. 
It would be more handsome, indeed it would be 
only just, and a free acknowledgment would go 

far ' Richard paused, no language appearing 

delicate enough to suit the case. 

'That is a suggestion which should have come 
from me, sir,' roared the father. ' It is out of place 
upon your lips. It is not the thought of a loyal son. 
Why, sir, if my father had been plunged in such 
deplorable circumstances, I should have thrashed the 
editor of that vile sheet within an inch of his life. 
I should have thrashed the man, sir. It would have 
been the action of an ass ; but it would have shown 
that I had the blood and the natural affections of a 
man. Son ? You are no son, no son of mine, sir ! ' 

' Sir ! ' said Dick. 

' I '11 tell you what you are, sir,' pursued the 

Squire. ' You 're a Benthamite. I disown you. 

Your mother would have died for shame ; there was 

no modern cant about your mother ; she thought — 

310 



A LETTER TO THE PAPERS 

she said to me, sir — I'm glad she's in her grave, 
Dick Naseby. Misinformed ! Misinformed, sir ? 
Have you no loyalty, no spring, no natural affec- 
tions ? Are you clockwork, hey ? Away ! This is 
no place for you. Away ! ' (Waving his hands in 
the air.) ' Go away ! Leave me ! ' 

At this moment Dick beat a retreat in a disarray 
of nerves, a whistling and clamour of his own 
arteries, and in short in such a final bodily disorder 
as made him alike incapable of speech or hearing. 
And in the midst of all this turmoil, a sense 
of unpardonable injustice remained graven in his 
memory. 



CHAPTER III 

IN THE ADMIRAL'S NAME 

There was no return to the subject. Dick and his 
father were henceforth on terms of coldness. The 
upright old gentleman grew more upright when he 
met his son, buckramed with immortal anger ; he 
asked after Dick's health, and discussed the weather 
and the crops with an appalling courtesy ; his pro- 
nunciation was point-device, his voice was distant, 
distinct, and sometimes almost trembling with sup- 
pressed indignation. 

As for Dick, it seemed to him as if his life had 
come abruptly to an end. He came out of his 
theories and clevernesses ; his premature man-of-the- 

311 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

worldness, on which he had prided himself on his 
travels, ' shrank like a thing ashamed ' before this 
real sorrow. Pride, wounded honour, pity and 
respect tussled together daily in his heart ; and now 
he was within an ace of throwing himself upon his 
father's mercy, and now of slipping forth at night 
and coming back no more to Naseby House. He 
suffered from the sight of his father, nay, even from 
the neighbourhood of this familiar valley, where 
every corner had its legend, and he was besieged 
with memories of childhood. If he fled into a new 
land, and among none but strangers, he might escape 
his destiny, who knew ? and begin again light- 
heartedly. From that chief peak of the hills, that 
now and then, like an uplifted finger, shone in an 
arrow of sunlight through the broken clouds, the 
shepherd in clear weather might perceive the shining 
of the sea. There, he thought, was hope. But his 
heart failed him when he saw the Squire ; and he 
remained. His fate was not that of the voyager 
by sea and land ; he was to travel in the spirit, and 
begin his journey sooner than he supposed. 

For it chanced one day that his walk led him into 
a portion of the uplands which was almost unknown 
to him. Scrambling through some rough woods, 
he came out upon a moorland reaching towards the 
hills. A few lofty Scots firs grew hard by upon a 
knoll; a clear fountain near the foot of the knoll 
sent up a miniature streamlet which meandered in 
the heather. A shower had just skimmed by, but 
now the sun shone brightly, and the air smelt of the 
312 



IN THE ADMIRAL'S NAME 

pines and the grass. On a stone under the trees sat 
a young lady sketching. We have learned to think 
of women in a sort of symbolic transfiguration, based 
on clothes ; and one of the readiest ways in which 
we conceive our mistress is as a composite thing, 
principally petticoats. But humanity has triumphed 
over clothes ; the look, the touch of a dress has 
become alive ; and the woman who stitched herself 
into these material integuments has now permeated 
right through and gone out to the tip of her skirt. 
It was only a black dress that caught Dick Naseby's 
eye ; but it took possession of his mind, and all 
other thoughts departed. He drew near, and the 
girl turned round. Her face startled him ; it was 
a face he wanted ; and he took it in at once like 
breathing air. 

* I beg your pardon,' he said, taking off his hat, 
' you are sketching.' 

' Oh ! ' she exclaimed, * for my own amusement. 
I despise the thing.' 

'Ten to one you do yourself injustice,' returned 
Dick. ' Besides, it 's a freemasonry. I sketch my- 
self, and you know what that implies.' 

' No. What ? ' she asked. 

' Two things,' he answered. ' First, that I am no 
very difficult critic ; and second, that I have a right 
to see your picture.' 

She covered the block with both her hands. ' Oh 
no,' she said; ' I am ashamed.' 

'Indeed, I might give you a hint,' said Dick. 
' Although no artist myself, I have known many ; in 

313 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

Paris I had many for friends, and used to prowl 
among studios.' 

' In Paris ? ' she cried, with a leap of light into her 
eyes. ' Did you ever meet Mr. Van Tromp ? ' 

* I ? Yes. Why, you 're not the Admiral's 
daughter, are you ? ' 

' The Admiral ? Do they call him that ? ' she 
cried. ' Oh, how nice, how nice of them ! It is the 
younger men who call him so, is it not ? ' 

'Yes,' said Dick, somewhat heavily. 

' You can understand now,' she said, with an un- 
speakable accent of contented and noble-minded 
pride, ' why it is I do not choose to show my sketch. 
Van Tromp's daughter ! The Admiral's daughter ! 
I delight in that name. The Admiral ! And so 
you know my father ? ' 

' Well,' said Dick, ' I met him often ; we were 
even intimate. He may have mentioned my name 
— Naseby.' 

' He writes so little. He is so busy, so devoted 
to his art ! I have had a half wish,' she added, 
laughing, ' that my father was a plainer man, whom I 
could help — to whom I could be a credit ; but only 
sometimes, you know, and with only half my heart. 
For a great painter ! You have seen his works ? ' 

' I have seen some of them,' returned Dick ; ' they 
— they are very nice.' 

She laughed aloud. ' Nice ? ' she repeated. ' I see 
you don't care much for art.' 

' Not much,' he admitted ; ' but I know that many 
people are glad to buy Mr. Van Tromp's pictures.' 
3i4 



IN THE ADMIRAL'S NAME 

' Call him the Admiral ! ' she cried. * It sounds 
kindly and familiar ; and I like to think that he is 
appreciated and looked up to by young painters. 
He has not always been appreciated ; he had a cruel 
life for many years ; and when I think ' — there were 
tears in her eyes — 'when I think of that, I feel 
inclined to be a fool,' she broke off. 'And now I 
shall go home. You have filled me full of happiness ; 
for think, Mr. Naseby, I have not seen my father 
since I was six years old; and yet he is in my 
thoughts all day ! You must come and call on me ; 
my aunt will be delighted, I am sure ; and then you 
will tell me all — all about my father, will you not ? ' 

Dick helped her to get her sketching traps to- 
gether ; and when all was ready she gave Dick her 
hand and a frank return of pressure. 

'You are my father's friend,' she said; 'we shall 
be great friends too. You must come and see me 
soon.' 

Then she was gone down the hillside at a run ; 
and Dick stood by himself in a state of some be- 
wilderment and even distress. There were elements 
of laughter in the business ; but the black dress, and 
the face that belonged to it, and the hand that he 
had held in his, inclined him to a serious view. 
What was he, under the circumstances, called upon 
to do ? Perhaps to avoid the girl ? Well, he would 
think about that. Perhaps to break the truth to 
her ? Why, ten to one, such was her infatuation, he 
would fail. Perhaps to keep up the illusion, to 
colour the raw facts ; to help her to false ideas, while 

315 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

yet not plainly stating falsehoods ? Well, he would 
see about that ; he would also see about avoiding 
the girl. He saw about this last so well, that the 
next afternoon beheld him on his way to visit 
her. 

In the meantime the girl had gone straight home, 
light as a bird, tremulous with joy, to the little cot- 
tage where she lived alone with a maiden aunt ; and 
to that lady, a grim, sixty years old Scotswoman, 
with a nodding head, communicated news of her 
encounter and invitation. 

* A friend of his ? ' cried the aunt. ' What like is 
he ? What did ye say was his name ? ' 

She was dead silent, and stared at the old woman 
darkling. Then very slowly, ' I said he was my 
father's friend ; I have invited him to my house, and 
come he shall,' she said ; and with that she walked 
off to her room, where she sat staring at the wall all 
the evening. Miss M'Glashan, for that was the 
aunt's name, read a large bible in the kitchen with 
some of the joys of martyrdom. 

It was perhaps half-past three when Dick pre- 
sented himself, rather scrupulously dressed, before 
the cottage door ; he knocked, and a voice bade him 
enter. The kitchen, which opened directly off the 
garden, was somewhat darkened by foliage ; but he 
could see her as she approached from the far end to 
meet him. This second sight of her surprised him. 
Her strong black brows spoke of temper easily 
aroused and hard to quiet; her mouth was small, 
nervous, and weak ; there was something dangerous 
316 



IN THE ADMIRALS NAME 

and sulky underlying, in her nature, much that was 
honest, compassionate, and even noble. 

* My father's name,' she said, * has made you very 
welcome.' 

And she gave him her hand with a sort of curtsey. 
It was a pretty greeting, although somewhat man- 
nered ; and Dick felt himself among the gods. She 
led him through the kitchen to a parlour, and pre- 
sented him to Miss M'Glashan. 

' Esther,' said the aunt, ' see and make Mr. Naseby 
his tea.' 

As soon as the girl was gone upon this hospitable 
intent, the old woman crossed the room and came 
quite near to Dick as if in menace. 

' Ye know that man ? ' she asked, in an imperious 
whisper. 

i Mr. Van Tromp ? ' said Dick. * Yes ; I know 
him.' 

* Well, and what brings ye here ? ' she said. ' I 
couldn't save the mother — her that's dead — but 
the bairn ! ' She had a note in her voice that filled 
poor Dick with consternation. ' Man,' she went 
on, ' what is it now ? Is it money ? ' 

*■ My dear lady,' said Dick, * I think you misinter- 
pret my position. I am young Mr. Naseby of 
Naseby House. My acquaintance with Mr. Van 
Tromp is really very slender ; I am only afraid that 
Miss Van Tromp has exaggerated our intimacy in 
her own imagination. I know positively nothing of 
his private affairs, and do not care to know. I met 
him casually in Paris — that is all.' 

317 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

Miss M'Glashan drew a long breath. ' In Paris ? ' 
she said. ' Well, and what do you think of him ? — 
what do ye think of him ? ' she repeated, with a dif- 
ferent scansion, as Richard, who had not much taste 
for such a question, kept her waiting for an answer. 

' I found him a very agreeable companion,' he 
said. 

* Ay,' said she, ' did ye ! And how does he win 
his bread ? ' 

' I fancy,' he gasped, ' that Mr. Van Tromp has 
many generous friends.' 

' I '11 warrant ! ' she sneered ; and before Dick 
could find more to say, she was gone from the room. 

Esther returned with the tea-things, and sat 
down. 

' Now,' she said cosily, ' tell me all about my 
father. ' 

' He ' — stammered Dick, ' he is a very agreeable 
companion.' 

4 1 shall begin to think it is more than you are, 
Mr. Naseby,' she said, with a laugh. ' I am his 
daughter, you forget. Begin at the beginning, and 
tell me all you have seen of him, all he said and all 
you answered. You must have met somewhere; 
begin with that.' 

So with that he began : how he had found the 
Admiral painting in a cafe* ; how his art so possessed 
him that he could not wait till he got home to — 
well, to dash off his idea ; how (this in reply to a 
question) his idea consisted of a cock crowing and 
two hens eating corn ; how he was fond of cocks and 
3i8 



IN THE ADMIRALS NAME 

hens; how this did not lead him to neglect more 
ambitious forms of art ; how he had a picture in his 
studio of a Greek subject which was said to be 
remarkable from several points of view ; how no one 
had seen it nor knew the precise site of the studio in 
which it was being vigorously though secretly con- 
fected ; how (in answer to a suggestion) this shyness 
was common to the Admiral, Michelangelo, and 
others ; how they (Dick and Van Tromp) had struck 
up an acquaintance at once, and dined together that 
same night ; how he (the Admiral) had once given 
money to a beggar ; how he spoke with effusion of 
his little daughter ; how he had once borrowed 
money to send her a doll — a trait worthy of Newton 
— she being then in her nineteenth "year at least ; 
how, if the doll never arrived (which it appeared it 
never did), the trait was only more characteristic of 
the highest order of creative intellect ; how he was 
— no, not beautiful — striking, yes, Dick would go so 
far, decidedly striking in appearance ; how his boots 
were made to lace and his coat was black, not cut- 
away, a frock ; and so on, and so on by the yard. It 
was astonishing how few lies were necessary. After 
all, people exaggerated the difficulty of life. A 
little steering, just a touch of the rudder now and 
then, and with a willing listener there is no limit to 
the domain of equivocal speech. Sometimes Miss 
M'Glashan made a freezing sojourn in the parlour ; 
and then the task seemed unaccountably more diffi- 
cult ; but to Esther, who was all eyes and ears, her 
face alight with interest, his stream of language 

319 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

flowed without break or stumble, and his mind was 
ever fertile in ingenious evasions and — 

What an afternoon it was for Esther ! 

* Ah ! ' she cried at last, ' it 's good to hear all 
this ! My aunt, you should know, is narrow and 
too religious ; she cannot understand an artist's life. 
It does not frighten me,' she added grandly ; ' I am 
an artist's daughter.' 

With that speech, Dick consoled himself for his 
imposture ; she was not deceived so grossly after all ; 
and then if a fraud, was not the fraud piety itself? — 
and what could be more obligatory than to keep 
alive in the heart of a daughter that filial trust and 
honour which, even although misplaced, became her 
like a jewel of the mind ? There might be another 
thought, a shade of cowardice, a selfish desire to 
please ; poor Dick was merely human ; and what 
would you have had him do ? 

CHAPTER IV 

ESTHER ON THE FILIAL RELATION 

A month later Dick and Esther met at the stile 
beside the cross roads ; had there been any one to see 
them but the birds and summer insects, it would 
have been remarked that they met after a different 
fashion from the day before. Dick took her in his 
arms, and their lips were set together for a long 
while. Then he held her at arm's length, and they 
looked straight into each other's eyes. 
320 



ESTHER ON THE FILIAL RELATION 

' Esther ! ' he said, — you should have heard his 
voice. 

' Dick ! ' said she. 

* My darling ! ' 

It was some time before they started for their 
walk ; he kept an arm about her, and their sides 
were close together as they walked ; the sun, the 
birds, the west wind running among the trees, a 
pressure, a look, the grasp tightening round a single 
finger, these things stood them in lieu of thought 
and filled their hearts with joy. The path they were 
following led them through a wood of pine-trees 
carpeted with heather and blueberry, and upon this 
pleasant carpet, Dick, not without some seriousness, 
made her sit down. 

* Esther ! ' he began, * there is something you 
ought to know. You know my father is a rich man, 
and you would think, now that we love each other, 
we might marry when we pleased. But I fear, dar- 
ling, we may have long to wait, and shall want all 
our courage.' 

' I have courage for anything,' she said, ' I have all 
I want ; with you and my father, I am so well off, 
and waiting is made so happy, that I could wait a 
lifetime and not weary.' 

He had a sharp pang at the mention of the Ad- 
miral. ' Hear me out,' he continued. ' I ought to 
have told you this before ; but it is a thought I 
shrink from ; if it were possible, I should not tell 
you even now. My poor father and I are scarce 
on speaking terms.' 

7-x 321 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

* Your father,' she repeated, turning pale. 
' It must sound strange to you ; but yet 1 cannot 
think I am to blame,' he said. ' I will tell you how 
it happened.' 

f O Dick ! ' she said, when she had heard him to 
an end, ' how brave you are, and how proud ! Yet 
I would not be proud with a father. I would tell 
him all.' 

' What ! ' cried Dick, * go in months after, and 
brag that I had meant to thrash the man, and then 
didn't ? And why? Because my father had made a 
bigger ass of himself than I supposed. My dear, 
that's nonsense.' 

She winced at his words and drew away. 'But 
then that is all he asks,' she pleaded. ' If he only 
knew that you had felt that impulse, it would make 
him so proud and happy. He would see you were 
his own son after all, and had the same thoughts and 
the same chivalry of spirit. And then you did your- 
self injustice when you spoke just now. It was 
because the editor was weak and poor and excused 
himself, that you repented your first determination. 
Had he been a big red man, with whiskers, you 
would have beaten him — you know you would — if 
Mr. Naseby had been ten times more committed. 
Do you think, if you can tell it to me, and I under- 
stand at once, that it would be more difficult to tell 
it to your own father, or that he would not be more 
ready to sympathise with you than I am ? And I 
love you, Dick ; but then he is your father.' 

'My dear,' said Dick desperately, 'you do not 
322 



ESTHER ON THE FILIAL RELATION 

understand ; you do not know what it is to be 
treated with daily want of comprehension and daily 
small injustices, through childhood and boyhood and 
manhood, until you despair of a hearing, until the 
thing rides you like a nightmare, until you almost 
hate the sight of the man you love, and who 's your 
father after all. In short, Esther, you don't know 
what it is to have a father, and that 's what blinds you.' 

' I see,' she said musingly, * you mean that I am 
fortunate in my father. But I am not so fortunate 
after all ; you forget, I do not know him ; it is you 
who know him ; he is already more your father than 
mine.' And here she took his hand. Dick's heart 
had grown as cold as ice. * But I am sorry for you, 
too,' she continued, ' it must be very sad and lonely.' 

'You misunderstand me,' said Dick chokingly. 
' My father is the best man I know in all this world ; 
he is worth a hundred of me, only he doesn't under- 
stand me, and he can't be made to.' 

There was a silence for a while. 'Dick,' she 
began again, ' I am going to ask a favour, it 's the 
first time you said you loved me. May I see your 
father — see him pass, I mean, where he will not 
observe me ? ' 

' Why ? ' asked Dick. 

'It is a fancy; you forget, I am romantic about 
fathers.' 

The hint was enough for Dick; he consented 
with haste, and full of hang-dog penitence and dis- 
gust, took her down by a back way and planted her 
in the shrubbery, whence she might see the Squire 

323 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

ride by to dinner. There they both sat silent, but 
holding hands, for nearly half an hour. At last the 
trotting of a horse sounded in the distance, the park 
gates opened with a clang, and then Mr. Naseby 
appeared, with stooping shoulders and a heavy, 
bilious countenance, languidly rising to the trot. 
Esther recognised him at once ; she had often seen 
him before, though with her huge indifference for all 
that lay outside the circle of her love, she had never 
so much as wondered who he was; but now she 
recognised him, and found him ten years older, leaden 
and springless, and stamped by an abiding sorrow. 

' O Dick, Dick ! ' she said, and the tears began to 
shine upon her face as she hid it in his bosom ; his 
own fell thickly too. They had a sad walk home, 
and that night, full of love and good counsel, Dick 
exerted every art to please his father, to convince 
him of his respect and affection, to heal up this 
breach of kindness, and reunite two hearts. But 
alas ! the Squire was sick and peevish ; he had been 
all day glooming over Dick's estrangement — for so 
he put it to himself, and now with growls, cold 
words, and the cold shoulder, he beat off all advances, 
and entrenched himself in a just resentment. 



CHAPTER V 

THE PRODIGAL FATHER MAKES HIS DEBUT AT HOME 

That took place upon a Thursday. On the Thurs- 
day following, as Dick was walking by appointment, 
324 



THE PRODIGAL FATHER AT HOME 

earlier than usual, in the direction of the cottage, 
he was appalled to meet in the lane a fly from 
Thymebury, containing the human form of Miss 
M'Glashan. The lady did not deign to remark him 
in her passage ; her face was suffused with tears, and 
expressed much concern for the packages by which 
she was surrounded. He stood still, and asked 
himself what this circumstance might portend. It 
was so beautiful a day that he was loth to forecast 
evil, yet something must perforce have happened at 
the cottage, and that of a decisive nature ; for here 
was Miss M'Glashan on her travels, with a small 
patrimony in brown paper parcels, and the old lady's 
bearing implied hot battle and unqualified defeat. 
Was the house to be closed against him ? Was 
Esther left alone, or had some new protector made 
his appearance from among the millions of Europe ? 
It is the character of love to loathe the near relatives 
of the loved one ; chapters in the history of the 
human race have justified this feeling, and the con- 
duct of uncles, in particular, has frequently met 
with censure from the independent novelist. Miss 
M'Glashan was now seen in the rosy colours of 
regret ; whoever succeeded her, Dick felt the change 
would be for the worse. He hurried forward in this 
spirit ; his anxiety grew upon him with every step ; 
as he entered the garden a voice fell upon his ear, 
and he was once more arrested, not this time by 
doubt, but by an indubitable certainty of ill. 

The thunderbolt had fallen ; the Admiral was here. 

Dick would have retreated, in the panic terror 

3 2 5 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

of the moment ; but Esther kept a bright look-out 
when her lover was expected. In a twinkling she 
was by his side, brimful of news and pleasure, too 
glad to notice his embarrassment, and in one of 
those golden transports of exultation which transcend 
not only words but caresses. She took him by the 
end of the fingers (reaching forward to take them, 
for her great pre-occupation was to save time), she 
drew him towards her, pushed him past her in the 
door, and planted him face to face with Mr. Van 
Tromp, in a suit of French country velveteens and 
with a remarkable carbuncle on his nose. Then, as 
though this was the end of what she could endure 
in the way of joy, Esther turned and ran out of 
the room. 

The two men remained looking at each other with 
some confusion on both sides. Van Tromp was 
naturally the first to recover ; he put out his hand 
with a fine gesture. 

' And you know my little lass, my Esther ? ' he 
said. *This is pleasant, this is what I have con- 
ceived of home. A strange word for the old rover ; 
but we all have a taste for home and the homelike, 
disguise it how we may. It has brought me here, 
Mr. Naseby,' he concluded, with an intonation that 
would have made his fortune on the stage, so just, 
so sad, so dignified, so like a man of the world and a 
philosopher, ' and you see a man who is content.' 

' I see,' said Dick. 

' Sit down,' continued the parasite, setting the 
example. 'Fortune has gone against me. (I am 
326 



THE PRODIGAL FATHER AT HOME 

just sirrupping a little brandy — after my journey.) 
I was going down, Mr. Naseby ; between you and 
me I was deceive ; I borrowed fifty francs, smuggled 
my valise past the concierge — a work of considerable 
tact — and here I am ! ' 

'Yes,' said Dick; 'and here you are.' He was 
quite idiotic. 

Esther, at this moment, re-entered the room. 

•' Are you glad to see him ? ' she whispered in his 
ear, the pleasure in her voice almost bursting through 
the whisper into song. 

' Oh yes,' said Dick ; ' very ! ' 

' I knew you would be,' she replied ; ' I told him 
how you loved him.' 

4 Help yourself,' said the Admiral, ' help yourself ; 
and let us drink to a new existence.' 

'To a new existence,' repeated Dick; and he 
raised the tumbler to his lips, but set it down 
untasted. He had had enough of novelties for one 
day. 

Esther was sitting on a stool beside her father's 
feet, holding her knees in her arms, and looking with 
pride from one to the other of her two visitors. 
Her eyes were so bright that you were never sure 
if there were tears in them or not ; little voluptuous 
shivers ran about her body ; sometimes she nestled 
her chin into her throat, sometimes threw back her 
head, with ecstasy ; in a word, she was in that state 
when it is said of people that they cannot contain 
themselves for happiness. It would be hard to 
exaggerate the agony of Richard. 

327 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

And, in the meantime, Van Tromp ran on in- 
terminably. 

'I never forget a friend,' said he, 'nor yet an 
enemy : of the latter I never had but two — myself 
and the public ; and I fancy I have had my ven- 
geance pretty freely out of both.' He chuckled. 
' But those days are done. Van Tromp is no more. 
He was a man who had successes ; I believe you 
knew I had successes — to which we shall refer no 
further,' pulling down his neckcloth with a smile. 
' That man exists no more : by an exercise of will I 
have destroyed him. There is something like it in 
the poets. First, a brilliant and conspicuous career 
— the observed, I may say, of all observers, including 
the bum-baily : and then, presto ! a quiet, sly, old, 
rustic bonhomme, cultivating roses. In Paris, Mr. 
Naseby ' 

i Call him Richard, father,' said Esther. 

' Richard, if he will allow me. Indeed, we are old 
friends, and now near neighbours ; and, a propos, 
how are we off for neighbours, Richard ? The cottage 
stands, I think, upon your father's land, a family 
which I respect — and the wood, I understand, is 
Lord Trevanion's. Not that I care ; I am an old 
Bohemian. I have cut society with a cut direct ; I 
cut it when I was prosperous, and now I reap my 
reward, and can cut it with dignity in my declension. 
These are our little amours propres, my daughter : 
your father must respect himself. Thank you, yes ; 
just a leetle, leetle, tiny — thanks, thanks ; you spoil 
me. But, as I was saying, Richard, or was about to 
328 



THE PRODIGAL FATHER AT HOME 

say, my daughter has been allowed to rust ; her aunt 
was a mere duenna ; hence, in parenthesis, Richard, 
her distrust of me; my nature and that of the 
duenna are poles asunder — poles ! But, now that I 
am here, now that I have given up the fight, and 
live henceforth for one only of my works — I have 
the modesty to say it is my best — my daughter — 
well, we shall put all that to rights. The neigh- 
bours, Richard ? ' 

Dick was understood to say that there were many 
good families in the Vale of Thyme. 

'You shall introduce us,' said the Admiral. 

Dick's shirt was wet; he made a lumbering 
excuse to go ; which Esther explained to herself by 
a fear of intrusion, and so set down to the merit 
side of Dick's account, while she proceeded to detain 
him. 

' Before our walk ? ' she cried. ' Never ! I must 
have my walk.' 

' Let us all go,' said the Admiral, rising. 

' You do not know that you are wanted,' she 
cried, leaning on his shoulder with a caress. ' I 
might wish to speak to my old friend about my new 
father. But you shall come to-day, you shall do all 
you want ; I have set my heart on spoiling you.' 

' I will take just one drop more,' said the Admiral, 
stooping to help himself to brandy. ' It is surprising 
how this journey has fatigued me. But I am grow- 
ing old, I am growing old, I am growing old, and — 
I regret to add — bald.' 

He cocked a white wide-awake coquettishly upon 

329 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

his head — the habit of the lady-killer clung to him ; 
and Esther had already thrown on her hat, and was 
ready, while he was still studying the result in a 
mirror: the carbuncle had somewhat painfully arrested 
his attention. 

■ We are papa now ; we must be respectable,' he 
said to Dick, in explanation of his dandyism : and 
then he went to a bundle and chose himself a staff. 
Where were the elegant canes of his Parisian epoch ? 
This was a support for age, and designed for rustic 
scenes. Dick began to see and appreciate the man's 
enjoyment in a new part, when he saw how carefully 
he had 'made it up.' He had invented a gait for 
this first country stroll with his daughter, which 
was admirably in key. He walked with fatigue ; he 
leaned upon the staff; he looked round him with 
a sad, smiling sympathy on all that he beheld; he 
even asked the name of a plant, and rallied himself 
gently for an old town-bird, ignorant of nature. 
' This country life will make me young again,' he 
sighed. They reached the top of the hill towards 
the first hour of evening; the sun was descending 
heaven, the colour had all drawn into the west ; the 
hills were modelled in their least contour by the soft, 
slanting shine ; and the wide moorlands, veined with 
glens and hazel woods, ran west and north in a 
hazy glory of light. Then the painter awakened in 
Van Tromp. 

' Gad, Dick,' he cried, ' what value ! ' 

An ode in four hundred lines would not have 
seemed so touching to Esther ; her eyes filled with 
330 



THE PRODIGAL FATHER AT HOME 

happy tears : yes, here was the father of whom she 
had dreamed, whom Dick had described ; simple, 
enthusiastic, unworldly, kind, a painter at heart, and 
a fine gentleman in manner. 

And just then the Admiral perceived a house by 
the wayside, and something depending over the 
house door which might be construed as a sign by 
the hopeful and thirsty. 

* Is that,' he asked, pointing with his stick, * an 
inn ? ' 

There was a marked change in his voice, as though 
he attached some importance to the inquiry : Esther 
listened, hoping she should hear wit or wisdom. 

Dick said it was. 

' You know it ? ' inquired the Admiral. 

' I have passed it a hundred times, but that is all,' 
replied Dick. 

* Ah,' said Van Tromp, with a smile and shaking 
his head ; ' you are not an old campaigner ; you have 
the world to learn. Now I, you see, find an inn so 
very near my own home, and my first thought is — 
my neighbours. I shall go forward and make my 
neighbour's acquaintance ; no, you needn't come ; I 
shall not be a moment.' 

And he walked off briskly towards the inn, leaving 
Dick alone with Esther on the road. 

' Dick,' she exclaimed, ' I am so glad to get a 
word with you ; I am so happy, I have such a 
thousand things to say ; and I want you to do me 
a favour. Imagine, he has come without a paint- 
box, without an easel ; and I want him to have all. 

33i 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

I want you to get them for me in Thymebury. You 
saw, this moment, how his heart turned to painting. 
They can't live without it,' she added ; meaning per- 
haps Van Tromp and Michelangelo. 

Up to that moment she had observed nothing 
amiss in Dick's behaviour. She was too happy to 
be curious ; and his silence, in presence of the great 
and good being whom she called her father, had 
seemed both natural and praiseworthy. But now 
that they were alone, she became conscious of a 
barrier between her lover and herself, and alarm 
sprang up in her heart. 

■ Dick,' she cried, ' you don't love me.' 

* I do that,' he said heartily. 

' But you are unhappy ; you are strange ; you — 
you are not glad to see my father,' she concluded, 
with a break in her voice. 

' Esther,' he said, ' I tell you that I love you ; if 
you love me, you know what that means, and that 
all I wish is to see you happy. Do you think I 
cannot enjoy your pleasure ? Esther, I do. If 

I am uneasy, if I am alarmed, if Oh, believe 

me, try and believe in me,' he cried, giving up argu- 
ment with perhaps a happy inspiration. 

But the girl's suspicions were aroused ; and al- 
though she pressed the matter no further (indeed her 
father was already seen returning), it by no means 
left her thoughts. At one moment she simply re- 
sented the selfishness of a man who had obtruded 
his dark looks and passionate language on her joy ; 
for there is nothing that a woman can less easily for- 
332 



THE PRODIGAL FATHER AT HOME 

give than the language of a passion which, even if 
only for the moment, she does not share. At another, 
she suspected him of jealousy against her father ; 
and for that, although she could see excuses for it, 
she yet despised him. And at least, in one way or 
the other, here was the dangerous beginning of a 
separation between two hearts. Esther found her- 
self at variance with her sweetest friend ; she could 
no longer look into his heart and find it written in 
the same language as her own ; she could no longer 
think of him as the sun which radiated happiness 
upon her life, for she had turned to him once, and 
he had breathed upon her black and chilly, radiated 
blackness and frost. To put the whole matter in a 
word, she was beginning, although ever so slightly, 
to fall out of love. 



CHAPTER VI 

THE PRODIGAL FATHER GOES ON FROM STRENGTH 
TO STRENGTH 

We will not follow all the steps of the Admiral's 
return and installation, but hurry forward towards 
the catastrophe, merely chronicling by the way a few 
salient incidents, wherein we must rely entirely upon 
the evidence of Richard, for Esther to this day has 
never opened her mouth upon this trying passage 
of her life, and as for the Admiral — well, that naval 
officer, though still alive, and now more suitably in- 

333 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

stalled in a seaport town where he has a telescope 
and a flag in his front garden, is incapable of throw- 
ing the slightest gleam of light upon the affair. 
Often and often has he remarked to the present 
writer : * If I know what it was all about, sir, I '11 

be ' in short, be what I hope he will not. And 

then he will look across at his daughter's portrait, a 
photograph, shake his head with an amused appear- 
ance, and mix himself another grog by way of con- 
solation. Once I have heard him go further, and 
express his feelings with regard to Esther in a single 
but eloquent word. 'A minx, sir,' he said, not in 
anger, rather in amusement : and he cordially drank 
her health upon the back of it. His worst enemy 
must admit him to be a man without malice ; he 
never bore a grudge in his life, lacking the necessary 
taste and industry of attention. 

Yet it was during this obscure period that the 
drama was really performed ; and its scene was in 
the heart of Esther, shut away from all eyes. Had 
this warm, upright, sullen girl been differently used 
by destiny, had events come upon her even in a 
different succession, for some things lead easily to 
others, the whole course of this tale would have been 
changed, and Esther never would have run away. 
As it was, through a series of acts and words of 
which we know but few, and a series of thoughts 
which any one may imagine for himself, she was 
awakened in four days from the dream of a life. 

The first tangible cause of disenchantment was 
when Dick brought home a painter's arsenal on Friday 

334 



THE PRODIGAL FATHER GOES ON 

evening. The Admiral was in the chimney-corner, 
once more ' sirrupping ' some brandy-and- water, 
and Esther sat at the table at work. They both 
came forward to greet the new arrival ; arid the girl, 
relieving him of his monstrous burthen, proceeded 
to display her offerings to her father. Van Tromp's 
countenance fell several degrees ; he became quite 
querulous. 

* God bless me,' he said ; and then, * I must really 
ask you not to interfere, child,' in a tone of undis- 
guised hostility. 

* Father,' she said, ' forgive me ; I knew you had 
given up your art ' 

* Oh yes,' cried the Admiral ; ' I 've done with it 
to the judgment day ! ' 

' Pardon me again,' she said firmly, ' but I do not, 
I cannot think that you are right in this. Suppose 
the world is unjust, suppose that no one understands 
you, you have still a duty to yourself. And oh, 
don't spoil the pleasure of your coming home to me ; 
show me that you can be my father and yet not 
neglect your destiny. I am not like some daughters ; 
I will not be jealous of your art, and I will try to 
understand it. ' 

The situation was odiously farcical. Richard 
groaned under it ; he longed to leap forward and 
denounce the humbug. And the humbug himself ? 
Do you fancy he was easier in his mind ? I am sure, 
on the other hand, that he was actually miserable ; 
and he betrayed his sufferings by a perfectly silly and 
undignified access of temper, during which he broke 

335 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

his pipe in several places, threw his brandy-and-water 
in the fire, and employed words which were very 
plain although the drift of them was somewhat 
vague. It was of very brief duration. Van Tromp 
was himself again, and in a most delightful humour 
within three minutes of the first explosion. 

' I am an old fool,' he said frankly. ' I was spoiled 
when a child. As for you, Esther, you take after 
your mother ; you have a morbid sense of duty, 
particularly for others ; strive against it, my dear — 
strive against it. And as for the pigments, well, 
I '11 use them some of these days ; and to show that 
I 'm in earnest, I '11 get Dick here to prepare a 
canvas.' 

Dick was put to this menial task forthwith, the 
Admiral not even watching how he did, but quite 
occupied with another grog and a pleasant vein of 
talk. 

A little after Esther arose, and making some pre- 
text, good or bad, went off to bed. Dick was left 
hobbled by the canvas, and was subjected to Van 
Tromp for about an hour. 

The next day, Saturday, it is believed that little 
intercourse took place between Esther and her father; 
but towards the afternoon Dick met the latter re- 
turning from the direction of the inn, where he had 
struck up quite a friendship with the landlord. Dick 
wondered who paid for these excursions, and at the 
thought that the reprobate must get his pocket- 
money where he got his board and lodging, from 
poor Esther's generosity, he had it almost in his 
336 



THE PRODIGAL FATHER GOES ON 

heart to knock the old gentleman down. He, on 
his part, was full of airs and graces and geniality. 

'Dear Dick,' he said, taking his arm, 'this is 
neighbourly of you ; it shows your tact to meet me 
when I had a wish for you. I am in pleasant spirits ; 
and it is then that I desire a friend.' 

' I am glad to hear you are so happy,' retorted 
Dick bitterly. ' There 's certainly not much to 
trouble you.' 

' No,' assented the Admiral, ' not much. I got 
out of it in time ; and here — well, here everything 
pleases me. I am plain in my tastes. A propos, 
you have never asked me how I liked my daughter?' 

'No,' said Dick roundly ; ' I certainly have not.' 

' Meaning you will not. And why, Dick ? She 
is my daughter, of course ; but then I am a man of 
the world and a man of taste, and perfectly qualified 
to give an opinion with impartiality — yes, Dick, 
with impartiality. Frankly, I am not disappointed 
in her. She has good looks ; she has them from her 
mother. She is devoted, quite devoted to me ' 

' She is the best woman in the world ! ' broke out 
Dick. 

' Dick,' cried the Admiral, stopping short ; ' I have 
been expecting this. Let us — let us go back to the 
Trevanion Arms, and talk this matter out over a 
bottle.' 

' Certainly not,' said Dick. ' You have had far 
too much already.' 

The parasite was on the point of resenting this ; 
but a look at Dick's face, and some recollections of 
7— y 337 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

the terms on which they had stood in Paris, came 
to the aid of his wisdom and restrained him. 

'As you please,' he said ; ' although I don't know 
what you mean — nor care. But let us walk, if you 
prefer it. You are still a young man ; when you are 

my age But, however, to continue. You please 

me, Dick ; you have pleased me from the first ; and 
to say truth, Esther is a trifle fantastic, and will be 
better when she is married. She has means of her 
own, as of course you are aware. They come, like 
the looks, from her poor, dear, good creature of a 
mother. She was blessed in her mother. I mean 
she shall be blessed in her husband, and you are the 
man, Dick, you and not another. This very night 
I will sound her affections.' 

Dick stood aghast. 

' Mr. Van Tromp, I implore you,' he said ; ' do 
what you please with yourself, but, for God's sake, 
let your daughter alone.' 

' It is my duty,' replied the Admiral, ' and between 
ourselves, you rogue, my inclination too. I am as 
matchmaking as a dowager. It will be more discreet 
for you to stay away to-night. Farewell. You leave 
your case in good hands ; I have the tact of these 
little matters by heart ; it is not my first attempt.' 

All arguments were in vain ; the old rascal stuck 
to his point ; nor did Richard conceal from himself 
how seriously this might injure his prospects, and he 
fought hard. Once there came a glimmer of hope. 
The Admiral again proposed an adjournment to the 
' Trevanion Arms,' and when Dick had once more 
33* 



THE PRODIGAL FATHER GOES ON 

refused, it hung for a moment in the balance whether 
or not the old toper would return there by himself. 
Had he done so, of course Dick could have taken to 
his heels, and warned Esther of what was coming, 
and of how it had begun. But the Admiral, after a 
pause, decided for the brandy at home, and made off 
in that direction. 

We have no details of the sounding. 

Next day the Admiral was observed in the parish 
church, very properly dressed. He found the places, 
and joined in response and hymn, as to the manner 
born ; and his appearance, as he intended it should, 
attracted some attention among the worshippers. 
Old Naseby, for instance, had observed him. 

' There was a drunken-looking blackguard oppo- 
site us in church,' he said to his son as they drove 
home ; * do you know who he was ? ' 

* Some fellow — Van Tromp, I believe,' said Dick. 

* A foreigner too ! ' observed the Squire. 

Dick could not sufficiently congratulate himself 
on the escape he had effected. Had the Admiral 
met him with his father, what would have been the 
result ? And could such a catastrophe be long 
postponed ? It seemed to him as if the storm were 
nearly ripe; and it was so more nearly than he 
thought. 

He did not go to the cottage in the afternoon, 
withheld by fear and shame ; but when dinner was 
over at Naseby House, and the Squire had gone off 
into a comfortable doze, Dick slipped out of the 
room, and ran across country, in part to save time, 

339 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

in part to save his own courage from growing cold ; 
for he now hated the notion of the cottage or the 
Admiral, and if he did not hate, at least feared to 
think of Esther. He had no clue to her reflections ; 
but he could not conceal from his own heart that he 
must have sunk in her esteem, and the spectacle of 
her infatuation galled him like an insult. 

He knocked and was admitted. The room looked 
very much as on his last visit, with Esther at the 
table and Van Tromp beside the fire ; but the 
expression of the two faces told a very different 
story. The girl was paler than usual ; her eyes 
were dark, the colour seemed to have faded from 
round about them, and her swiftest glance was as 
intent as a stare. The appearance of the Admiral, 
on the other hand, was rosy, and flabby, and moist ; 
his jowl hung over his shirt collar, his smile was 
loose and wandering, and he had so far relaxed the 
natural control of his eyes, that one of them was 
aimed inward, as if to catch the growth of the car- 
buncle. We are warned against bad judgments ; 
but the Admiral was certainly not sober. He made 
no attempt to rise when Richard entered, but waved 
his pipe flightily in the air, and gave a leer of 
welcome. Esther took as little notice of him as 
might be. 

' Aha ! Dick ! ' cried the painter. ' I Ve been to 
church ; I have, upon my word. And I saw you 
there, though you didn't see me. And I saw a 
devilish pretty woman, by Gad. If it were not for 
this baldness, and a kind of crapulous air I can't 
340 



THE PRODIGAL FATHER GOES ON 

disguise from myself — if it weren't for this and that 
and t 'other thing — I — I 've forgot what I was 
saying. Not that that matters, I 've heaps of things 
to say. I'm in a communicative vein to-night. I '11 
let out all my cats, even unto seventy times seven. 
I 'm in what I call the stage, and all I desire is a 
listener, although he were deaf, to be as happy as 
Nebuchadnezzar. ' 

Of the two hours which followed upon this it 
is unnecessary to give more than a sketch. The 
Admiral was extremely silly, now and then amus- 
ing, and never really offensive. It was plain that he 
kept in view the presence of his daughter, and chose 
subjects and a character of language that should 
not offend a lady. On almost any other occasion 
Dick would have enjoyed the scene. Van Tromp's 
egotism, flown with drink, struck a pitch above 
mere vanity. He became candid and explanatory ; 
sought to take his auditors entirely into his con- 
fidence, and tell them his inmost conviction about 
himself. Between his self-knowledge, which was 
considerable, and his vanity, which was immense, he 
had created a strange hybrid animal, and called it by 
his own name. How he would plume his feathers 
over virtues which would have gladdened the heart 
of Ca?sar or St. Paul ; and anon, complete his own 
portrait with one of those touches of pitiless realism 
which the satirist so often seeks in vain. 

'Now, there's Dick,' he said, 'he's shrewd; he 
saw through me the first time we met, and told me 
so — told me so to my face, which I had the virtue 

34i 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

to keep. I bear you no malice for it, Dick; you 
were right ; I am a humbug.' 

You may fancy how Esther quailed at this new 
feature of the meeting between her two idols. 

And then, again, in a parenthesis : 

'That,' said Van Tromp, 'was when I had to 
paint those dirty daubs of mine.' 

And a little further on, laughingly said, perhaps, 
but yet with an air of truth : 

' I never had the slightest hesitation in spongeing 
upon any human creature.' 

Thereupon Dick got up. 

' I think, perhaps,' he said, ' we had better all be 
thinking of going to bed.' And he smiled with a 
feeble and deprecatory smile. 

' Not at all,' cried the Admiral, ' I know a trick 
worth two of that. Puss here,' indicating his daugh- 
ter, ' shall go to bed ; and you and I will keep it up 
till all 's blue. 

Thereupon Esther arose in sullen glory. She had 
sat and listened for two mortal hours while her idol 
denied himself and sneered away his godhead. One 
by one, her illusions had departed ; and now he 
wished to order her to bed in her own house ! now 
he called her Puss ! now, even as he uttered the 
words, toppling on his chair, he broke the stem of 
his tobacco pipe in three ! Never did the sheep turn 
upon her shearer with a more commanding front. 
Her voice was calm, her enunciation a little slow, but 
perfectly distinct, and she stood before him, as she 
spoke, in the simplest and most maidenly attitude. 
342 



THE PRODIGAL FATHER GOES ON 

' No,' she said, ' Mr. Naseby will have the good- 
ness to go home at once, and you will go to bed.' 

The broken fragments of pipe fell from the 
Admiral's fingers ; he seemed by his countenance to 
have lived too long in a world unworthy of him ; but 
it is an odd circumstance, he attempted no reply, 
and sat thunderstruck, with open mouth. 

Dick she motioned sharply towards the door, and 
he could only obey her. In the porch, finding she 
was close behind him, he ventured to pause and 
whisper, 'You have done right.' 

' I have done as I pleased,' she said. ' Can he 
paint ? ' 

'Many people like his paintings,' returned Dick, 
in stifled tones ; ' I never did ; I never said I did,' 
he added, fiercely defending himself before he was 
attacked. 

' I ask you if he can paint. I will not be put off. 
Can he paint ? ' she repeated. 

'No,' said Dick. 

' Does he even like it ? ' 

' Not now, I believe.' 

' And he is drunk ? ' — she leaned upon the word 
with hatred. 

' He has been drinking.' 

' Go,' she said, and was turning to re-enter the 
house when another thought arrested her. ' Meet 
me to-morrow morning at the stile,' she said. 

' I will,' replied Dick. 

And then the door closed behind her, and Dick 
was alone in the darkness. There was still a chink 

343 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

of light above the sill, a warm, mild glow behind 
the window ; the roof of the cottage and some of 
the banks and hazels were defined in denser dark- 
ness against the sky ; but all else was formless, 
breathless, and noiseless like the pit. Dick remained 
as she had left him, standing squarely on one foot 
and resting only on the toe of the other, and as he 
stood he listened with his soul. The sound of a 
chair pushed sharply over the floor startled his heart 
into his mouth ; but the silence which had thus been 
disturbed settled back again at once upon the cot- 
tage and its vicinity. What took place during this 
interval is a secret from the world of men ; but 
when it was over the voice of Esther spoke evenly 
and without interruption for perhaps half a minute, 
and as soon as that ceased heavy and uncertain foot- 
falls crossed the parlour and mounted lurching up 
the stairs. The girl had tamed her father, Van 
Tromp had gone obediently to bed : so much was 
obvious to the watcher in the road. And yet he 
still waited, straining his ears, and with terror and 
sickness at his heart ; for if Esther had followed her 
father, if she had even made one movement in this 
great conspiracy of men and nature to be still, Dick 
must have had instant knowledge of it from his 
station before the door ; and if she had not moved, 
must she not have fainted ? or might she not be dead ? 
He could hear the cottage clock deliberately 
measure out the seconds ; time stood still with him ; 
an almost superstitious terror took command of his 
faculties ; at last, he could bear no more, and spring- 
344 



THE PRODIGAL FATHER GOES ON 

ing through the little garden in two bounds, he put 
his face against the window. The blind, which had 
not been drawn fully down, left an open chink 
about an inch in height along the bottom of the 
glass, and the whole parlour was thus exposed to 
Dick's investigation. Esther sat upright at the 
table, her head resting on her hand, her eyes fixed 
upon the candle. Her brows were slightly bent, 
her mouth slightly open ; her whole attitude so 
still and settled that Dick could hardly fancy that 
she breathed. She had not stirred at the sound 
of Dick's arrival. Soon after, making a con- 
siderable disturbance amid the vast silence of the 
night, the clock lifted up its voice, whined for a 
while like a partridge, and then eleven times hooted 
like a cuckoo. Still Esther continued immovable 
and gazed upon the candle. Midnight followed, and 
then one of the morning ; and still she had not 
stirred, nor had Richard Naseby dared to quit the 
window. And then about half-past one, the candle 
she had been thus intently watching flared up into 
a last blaze of paper, and she leaped to her feet with 
an ejaculation, looked about her once, blew out the 
light, turned round, and was heard rapidly mounting 
the staircase in the dark. 

Dick was left once more alone to darkness and 
to that dulled and dogged state of mind when a man 
thinks that misery must now have done her worst, 
and is almost glad to think so. He turned and 
walked slowly towards the stile ; she had told him 
no hour, and he was determined, whenever she 

345 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

came, that she should find him waiting. As he got 
there the day began to dawn, and he leaned over a 
hurdle and beheld the shadows flee away. Up went 
the sun at last out of a bank of clouds that were 
already disbanding in the east ; a herald wind had 
already sprung up to sweep the leafy earth and 
scatter the congregated dewdrops. ' Alas ! ' thought 
Dick Naseby, ' how can any other day come so dis- 
tastefully to me?' He still wanted his experience 
of the morrow. 



CHAPTER VII 

THE ELOPEMENT 

It was probably on the stroke of ten, and Dick had 
been half asleep for some time against the bank, 
when Esther came up the road carrying a bundle. 
Some kind of instinct, or perhaps the distant light 
footfalls, recalled him, while she was still a good way 
off, to the possession of his faculties, and he half 
raised himself and blinked upon the world. It took 
him some time to re-collect his thoughts. He had 
awakened with a certain blank and childish sense of 
pleasure, like a man who had received a legacy over- 
night ; but this feeling gradually died away, and was 
then suddenly and stunningly succeeded by a con- 
viction of the truth. The whole story of the past 
night sprang into his mind with every detail, as by 
an exercise of the direct and speedy sense of sight, 
346 



THE ELOPEMENT 

and he arose from the ditch and, with rueful courage, 
went to meet his love. 

She came up to him walking steady and fast, her 
face still pale, but to all appearance perfectly com- 
posed ; and she showed neither surprise, relief, nor 
pleasure at finding her lover on the spot. Nor did 
she offer him her hand. 

' Here I am,' said he. 

' Yes,' she replied ; and then, without a pause or 
any change of voice, * I want you to take me away,' 
she added. 

' Away ? ' he repeated. * How ? Where ? ' 

' To-day,' she said. * I do not care where it is, 
but I want you to take me away.' 

* For how long ? I do not understand,' gasped 
Dick. 

* I shall never come back here any more,' was all 
she answered. 

Wild words uttered, as these were, with perfect 
quiet of manner, exercise a double influence on the 
hearer's mind. Dick was confounded ; he recovered 
from astonishment only to fall into doubt and alarm. 
He looked upon her frozen attitude, so discouraging 
for a lover to behold, and recoiled from the thoughts 
which it suggested. 

'To me?' he asked. 'Are you coming to me, 
Esther?' 

' I want you to take me away,' she repeated, with 
weary impatience. ' Take me away — take me away 
from here.' 

The situation was not sufficiently defined. Dick 

347 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

asked himself with concern whether she were alto- 
gether in her right wits. To take her away, to marry 
her, to work off his hands for her support, Dick was 
content to do all this ; yet he required some show 
of love on her part. He was not one of those 
tough -hided and small- hearted males who would 
marry their love at the point of the bayonet rather 
than not marry her at all. He desired that a woman 
should come to his arms with an attractive willing- 
ness, if not with ardour. And Esther's bearing was 
more that of despair than that of love. It chilled 
him and taught him wisdom. 

' Dearest,' he urged, ' tell me what you wish, and 
you shall have it ; tell me your thoughts, and then I 
can advise you. But to go from here without a 
plan, without forethought, in the heat of a moment, 
is madder than madness, and can help nothing. I 
am not speaking like a man, but I speak the truth ; 
and I tell you again, the thing 's absurd, and wrong, 
and hurtful.' 

She looked at him with a lowering, languid look 
of wrath. 

' So you will not take me ? ' she said. ' Well, I 
will go alone.' 

And she began to step forward on her way. But 
he threw himself before her. 

' Esther, Esther ! ' he cried. 

'Let me go — don't touch me — what right have 
you to interfere ? Who are you, to touch me ? ' she 
flashed out, shrill with anger. 

Then, being made bold by her violence, he took 
348 



THE ELOPEMENT 

her firmly, almost roughly, by the arm, and held her 
while he spoke. 

' You know well who I am, and what I am, and 
that I love you. You say I will not help you ; but 
your heart knows the contrary. It is you who will 
not help me; for you will not tell me what you 
want. You see — or you could see, if you took the 
pains to look — how I have waited here all night to 
be ready at your service. I only asked information ; 
I only urged you to consider ; and I still urge you 
to think better of your fancies. But if your mind is 
made up, so be it ; I will beg no longer ; I will give 
you my orders ; and I will not allow — not allow you 
to go hence alone.' 

She looked at him for a while with cold, unkind 
scrutiny, like one who tries the temper of a tool. 

* Well, take me away then,' she said, with a sigh. 

' Good,' said Dick. * Come with me to the stables ; 
there we shall get the pony-trap and drive to the 
junction. To-night you shall be in London. I am 
yours so wholly that no words can make me more 
so ; and, besides, you know it, and the words are 
needless. May God help me to be good to you, 
Esther — may God help me ! for I see that you will 
not.' 

So, without more speech, they set out together, 
and were already got some distance from the spot, 
ere he observed that she was still carrying the hand- 
bag. She gave it up to him, passively, but when 
he offered her his arm, merely shook her head and 
pursed up her lips. The sun shone clearly and 

349 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

pleasantly ; the wind was fresh and brisk upon their 
faces, and smelt racily of woods and meadows. As 
they went down into the valley of the Thyme, the 
babble of the stream rose into the air like a perennial 
laughter. On the far-away hills, sun-burst and 
shadow raced along the slopes and leaped from peak 
to peak. Earth, air, and water, each seemed in 
better health and had more of the shrewd salt of life 
in them than upon ordinary mornings ; and from 
east to west, from the lowest glen to the height of 
heaven, from every look and touch and scent, a 
human creature could gather the most encouraging 
intelligence as to the durability and spirit of the 
universe. 

Through all this walked Esther, picking her small 
steps like a bird, but silent and with a cloud under 
her thick eyebrows. She seemed insensible, not only 
of nature, but of the presence of her companion. 
She was altogether engrossed in herself, and looked 
neither to right nor to left, but straight before her 
on the road. When they came to the bridge, how- 
ever, she halted, leaned on the parapet, and stared 
for a moment at the clear, brown pool, and swift, 
transient snowdrift of the rapids. 

'I am going to drink,' she said; and descended 
the winding footpath to the margin. 

There she drank greedily in her hands, and washed 
her temples with water. The coolness seemed to 
break, for an instant, the spell that lay upon her; 
for, instead of hastening forward again in her dull, 
indefatigable tramp, she stood still where she was, 
35o 



THE ELOPEMENT 

for near a minute, looking straight before her. And 
Dick, from above on the bridge where he stood to 
watch her, saw a strange, equivocal smile dawn 
slowly on her face and pass away again at once and 
suddenly, leaving her as grave as ever ; and the 
sense of distance, which it is so cruel for a lover to 
endure, pressed with every moment more heavily on 
her companion. Her thoughts were all secret ; her 
heart was locked and bolted ; and he stood without, 
vainly wooing her with his eyes. 

'Do you feel better?' asked Dick, as she at last 
rejoined him ; and after the constraint of so long a 
silence, his voice sounded foreign to his own ears. 

She looked at him for an appreciable fraction of a 
minute ere she answered, and when she did, it was 
in the monosyllable — 'Yes.' 

Dick's solicitude was nipped and frosted. His 
words died away on his tongue. Even his eyes, 
despairing of encouragement, ceased to attend on 
hers. And they went on in silence through Kirton 
hamlet, where an old man followed them with his 
eyes, and perhaps envied them their youth and love ; 
and across the ivy beck where the mill was splashing 
and grumbling low thunder to itself in the chequered 
shadow of the dell, and the miller before the door 
was beating flour from his hands as he whistled a 
modulation ; and up by the high spinney, whence 
they saw the mountains upon either hand ; and 
down the hill again to the back courts and offices of 
Naseby House. Esther had kept ahead all the way, 
and Dick plodded obediently in her wake; but as 

35i 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

they neared the stables, he pushed on and took the 
lead. He would have preferred her to await him in 
the road while he went on and brought the carriage 
back, but after so many repulses and rebuffs he 
lacked courage to offer the suggestion. Perhaps, 
too, he felt it wiser to keep his convoy within sight. 
So they entered the yard in Indian file, like a tramp 
and his wife. 

The groom's eyebrows rose as he received the 
order for the pony-phaeton, and kept rising during 
all his preparations. Esther stood bolt upright and 
looked steadily at some chickens in the corner of the 
yard. Master Richard himself, thought the groom, 
was not in his ordinary ; for in truth, he carried the 
hand-bag like a talisman, and either stood listless, 
or set off suddenly walking in one direction after 
another with brisk, decisive footsteps. Moreover, he 
had apparently neglected to wash his hands, and 
bore the air of one returning from a prolonged 
nutting ramble. Upon the groom's countenance 
there began to grow up an expression as of one 
about to whistle. And hardly had the carriage 
turned the corner and rattled into the high road 
with this inexplicable pair, than the whistle broke 
forth — prolonged, and low and tremulous ; and the 
groom, already so far relieved, vented the rest of his 
surprise in one simple English word, friendly to the 
mouth of Jack-tar and the sooty pitman, and hurried 
to spread the news round the servants' hall of Naseby 
House. Luncheon would be on the table in little 
beyond an hour ; and the Squire, on sitting down, 
352 



THE ELOPEMENT 

would hardly fail to ask for Master Richard. Hence, 
as the intelligent reader can foresee, this groom has 
a part to play in the imbroglio. 

Meantime, Dick had been thinking deeply and 
bitterly. It seemed to him as if his love had gone 
from him indeed, yet gone but a little way ; as if 
he needed but to find the right touch or intonation, 
and her heart would recognise him and be melted. 
Yet he durst not open his mouth, and drove in 
silence till they had passed the main park-gates and 
turned into the cross-cut lane along the wall. Then 
it seemed to him as if it must be now, or never. 

' Can't you see you are killing me ? ' he cried. 
' Speak to me, look at me, treat me like a human 
man.' 

She turned slowly and looked him in the face 
with eyes that seemed kinder. He dropped the 
reins and caught her hand, and she made no resist- 
ance although her touch was unresponsive. But 
when, throwing one arm round her waist, he sought 
to kiss her lips, not like a lover indeed, not because 
he wanted to do so, but as a desperate man who 
puts his fortunes to the touch, she drew away from 
him, with a knot in her forehead, backed and shied 
about fiercely with her head, and pushed him from 
her with her hand. Then there was no room left 
for doubt, and Dick saw, as clear as sunlight, that 
she had a distaste or nourished a grudge against him. 

' Then you don't love me ? ' he said, drawing back 
from her, he also, as though her touch had burnt 
him ; and then, as she made no answer, he repeated 
7— z 353 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

with another intonation, imperious and yet still 
pathetic, ' You don't love me, do you, do you ? ' 

'I don't know,' she replied. 'Why do you ask 
me ? Oh, how should I know ? It has all been 
lies together — lies, and lies, and lies ! ' 

He cried her name sharply, like a man who has 
taken a physical hurt, and that was the last word 
that either of them spoke until they reached Thyme- 
bury Junction. 

This was a station isolated in the midst of moor- 
lands, yet lying on the great up-line to London. 
The nearest town, Thymebury itself, was seven 
miles distant along the branch they call the Vale of 
Thyme Railway. It was now nearly half an hour 
past noon, the down train had just gone by, and 
there would be no more traffic at the junction until 
half-past three, when the local train comes in to 
meet the up express at a quarter before four. The 
stationmaster had already gone off to his garden, 
which was half a mile away in a hollow of the 
moor ; a porter, who was just leaving, took charge 
of the phaeton, and promised to return it before 
night to Naseby House; only a deaf, snuffy, and 
stern old man remained to play propriety for Dick 
and Esther. 

Before the phaeton had driven off, the girl had 
entered the station and seated herself upon a bench. 
The endless, empty moorlands stretched before her, 
entirely unenclosed, and with no boundary but the 
horizon. Two lines of rails, a waggon shed, and a 
few telegraph posts, alone diversified the outlook. 

354 



THE ELOPEMENT 

As for sounds, the silence was unbroken save by the 
chant of the telegraph wires and the crying of the 
plovers on the waste. With the approach of mid- 
day the wind had more and more fallen, it was now 
sweltering hot and the air trembled in the sunshine. 

Dick paused for an instant on the threshold of the 
platform. Then, in two steps, he was by her side 
and speaking almost with a sob. 

'Esther,' he said, 'have pity on me. What have 
I done ? Can you not forgive me ? Esther, you 
loved me once — can you not love me still ? ' 

' How can I tell you ? How am I to know ? ' she 
answered. ' You are all a lie to me — all a lie from 
first to last. You were laughing at my folly, playing 
with me like a child, at the very time when you 
declared you loved me. Which was true ? was any 
of it true ? or was it all, all a mockery ? I am weary 
trying to find out. And you say I loved you; I 
loved my father's friend. I never loved, I never 
heard of, you, until that man came home and I 
began to find myself deceived. Give me back my 
father, be what you were before, and you may talk 
of love indeed.' 

' Then you cannot forgive me — cannot ? ' he asked. 

' I have nothing to forgive,' she answered. ' You 
do not understand.' 

' Is that your last word, Esther ? ' said he, very 
white and biting his lip to keep it still. 

' Yes ; that is my last word,' replied she. 

' Then we are here on false pretences, and we stay 
here no longer,' he said. ' Had you still loved me, 

355 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

right or wrong, I should have taken you away, be- 
cause then I could have made you happy. But as 
it is — I must speak plainly — what you propose is 
degrading to you, and an insult to me, and a rank 
unkindness to your father. Your father may be this 
or that, but you should use him like a fellow- 
creature.' 

' What do you mean ? ' she flashed. ' I leave him 
my house and all my money ; it is more than he 
deserves. I wonder you dare speak to me about 
that man. And besides, it is all he cares for ; let 
him take it, and let me never hear from him again.' 

' I thought you romantic about fathers,' he said. 

* Is that a taunt ? ' she demanded. 

' No,' he replied, ' it is an argument. No one can 
make you like him, but don't disgrace him in his 
own eyes. He is old, Esther, old and broken down. 
Even I am sorry for him, and he has been the loss of 
all I cared for. Write to your aunt; when I see 
her answer you can leave quietly and naturally, and 
I will take you to your aunt's door. But in the 
meantime you must go home. You have no money, 
and so you are helpless, and must do as I tell you ; 
and believe me, Esther, I do all for your good, and 
your good only, so God help me.' 

She had put her hand into her pocket and with- 
drawn it empty. 

* I counted upon you,' she wailed. 

' You counted rightly, then,' he retorted. 6 1 will 
not, to please you for a moment, make both of us 
unhappy for our lives ; and since I cannot marry 
356 



THE ELOPEMENT 

you, we have only been too long away, and must go 
home at once.' 

' Dick,' she cried suddenly, ' perhaps I might — 
perhaps in time — perhaps ' 

'There is no perhaps about the matter,' inter- 
rupted Dick. ' I must go and bring the phaeton.' 

And with that he strode from the station, all in a 
glow of passion and virtue. Esther, whose eyes had 
come alive and her cheeks flushed during these last 
words, relapsed in a second into a state of petrifac- 
tion. She remained without motion during his 
absence, and when he returned suffered herself to be 
put back into the phaeton, and driven off on the 
return journey like an idiot or a tired child. Com- 
pared with what she was now, her condition of the 
morning seemed positively natural. She sat cold 
and white and silent, and there was no speculation in 
her eyes. Poor Dick flailed and flailed at the pony, 
and once tried to whistle, but his courage was going 
down ; huge clouds of despair gathered together in 
his soul, and from time to time their darkness 
was divided by a piercing flash of longing and 
regret. He had lost his love — he had lost his love 
for good. 

The pony was tired, and the hills very long and 
steep, and the air sultrier than ever, for now the 
breeze began to fail entirely. It seemed as if this 
miserable drive would never be done, as if poor Dick 
would never be able to go away and be comfortably 
wretched by himself; for all his desire was to escape 
from her presence and the reproach of her averted 

357 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

looks. He had lost his love, he thought — he had 
lost his love for good. 

They were already not far from the cottage, when 
his heart again faltered and he appealed to her once 
more, speaking low and eagerly in broken phrases. 

' I cannot live without your love,' he concluded. 

' I do not understand what you mean,' she replied, 
and I believe with perfect truth. 

* Then,' said he, wounded to the quick, * your aunt 
might come and fetch you herself. Of course you 
can command me as you please. But I think it 
would be better so.' 

' Oh yes,' she said wearily, ' better so.' 

This was the only exchange of words between 
them till about four o'clock ; the phaeton, mounting 
the lane, ' opened out ' the cottage between the leafy 
banks. Thin smoke went straight up from the 
chimney ; the flowers in the garden, the hawthorn in 
the lane, hung down their heads in the heat ; the 
stillness was broken only by the sound of hoofs. 
For right before the gate a livery servant rode 
slowly up and down, leading a saddle horse. And 
in this last Dick shuddered to identify his father's 
chestnut. 

Alas ! poor Richard, what should this portend ? 

The servant, as in duty bound, dismounted and 
took the phaeton into his keeping ; yet Dick thought 
he touched his hat to him with something of a grin. 
Esther, passive as ever, was helped out and crossed 
the garden with a slow and mechanical gait ; and 
Dick, following close behind her, heard from within 
358 



THE ELOPEMENT 

the cottage his father's voice upraised in an anathema, 
and the shriller tones of the Admiral responding in 
the key of war. 



CHAPTER VIII 

BATTLE ROYAL 

Squire Naseby, on sitting down to lunch, had in- 
quired for Dick, whom he had not seen since the 
day before at dinner; and the servant answering 
awkwardly that Master Richard had come back, but 
had gone out again with the pony-phaeton, his sus- 
picions became aroused, and he cross-questioned the 
man until the whole was out. It appeared from this 
report that Dick had been going about for nearly a 
month with a girl in the Vale— a Miss Van Tromp ; 
that she lived near Lord Trevanion's upper wood ; 
that recently Miss Van Tromp's papa had returned 
home from foreign parts after a prolonged absence ; 
that this papa was an old gentleman, very chatty and 
free with his money in the public-house— whereupon 
Mr. Naseby 's face became encrimsoned ; that the 
papa, furthermore, was said to be an admiral— where- 
upon Mr. Naseby spat out a whistle brief and fierce 
as an oath ; that Master Dick seemed very friendly 
with the papa—' God help him ! ' said Mr. Naseby ; 
that last night Master Dick had not come in, and 
to-day he had driven away in the phaeton with the 
young lady. 

359 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

4 Young woman,' corrected Mr. Naseby. 

' Yes, sir,' said the man, who had been unwilling 
enough to gossip from the first, and was now cowed 
by the effect of his communications on the master. 
' Young woman, sir ! ' 

6 Had they luggage ? ' demanded the Squire. 

' Yes, sir. ' 

Mr. Naseby was silent for a moment, struggling 
to keep down his emotion, and he mastered it so far 
as to mount into the sarcastic vein, when he was in 
the nearest danger of melting into the sorrowful. 

' And was this — this Van Dunk with them ? ' he 
asked, dwelling scornfully on the name. 

The servant believed not, and being eager to shift 
the responsibility to other shoulders suggested that 
perhaps the master had better inquire further from 
George the stableman in person. 

' Tell him to saddle the chestnut and come with 
me. He can take the grey gelding; for we may 
ride fast. And then you can take away this trash,' 
added Mr. Naseby, pointing to the luncheon ; and 
he arose, lordly in his anger, and marched forth upon 
the terrace to await his horse. 

There Dick's old nurse shrunk up to him, for the 
news went like wildfire over Naseby House, and 
timidly expressed a hope that there was nothing 
much amiss with the young master. 

' I '11 pull him through,' the Squire said grimly, as 
though he meant to pull him through a threshing- 
mill ; ' I '11 save him from this gang ; God help him 
with the next ! He has a taste for low company, 
360 



BATTLE ROYAL 

and no natural affections to steady him. His father 
was no society for him ; he must go fuddling with a 
Dutchman, Nance, and now he's caught. Let us 
pray he '11 take the lesson,' he added, more gravely, 
* but youth is here to make troubles, and age to pull 
them out again.' 

Nance whimpered and recalled several episodes of 
Dick's childhood, which moved Mr. Naseby to blow 
his nose and shake her hard by the hand ; and then, 
the horse having arrived opportunely, to get himself 
without delay into the saddle and canter off. 

He rode straight, hot spur, to Thymebury, where, 
as was to be expected, he could glean no tidings of 
the runaways. They had not been seen at the 
George ; they had not been seen at the station. 
The shadow darkened on Mr. Naseby 's face; the 
junction did not occur to him ; his last hope was for 
Van Tromp's cottage ; thither he bade George guide 
him, and thither he followed, nursing grief, anxiety, 
and indignation in his heart. 

' Here it is, sir,' said George, stopping. 

' What ! on my own land ! ' he cried. ' How 's 
this ? I let this place to somebody — M' Whirter or 
M'Glashan.' 

' Miss M'Glashan was the young lady's aunt, sir, 
I believe,' returned George. 

' Ay— dummies,' said the Squire. ' I shall whistle 
for my rent too. Here, take my horse.' 

The Admiral, this hot afternoon, was sitting by 
the window with a long glass. He already knew the 
Squire by sight, and now, seeing him dismount 

361 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

before the cottage and come striding through the 
garden, concluded without doubt he was there to ask 
for Esther's hand. 

' This is why the girl is not yet home,' he thought ; 
' a very suitable delicacy on young Naseby's part.' 

And he composed himself with some pomp, 
answered the loud rattle of the riding whip upon the 
door with a dulcet invitation to enter, and coming 
forward with a bow and a smile, 'Mr. Naseby, I 
believe,' said he. 

The Squire came armed for battle ; took in his 
man from top to toe in one rapid and scornful glance, 
and decided on a course at once. He must let the 
fellow see that he understood him. 

' You are Mr. Van Tromp ? ' he returned roughly, 
and without taking any notice of the proffered hand. 

' The same, sir,' replied the Admiral. ' Pray be 
seated.' 

' No, sir,' said the Squire, point-blank, ' I will not 
be seated. I am told that you are an admiral,' he 
added. 

'No, sir, I am not an admiral,' returned Van 
Tromp, who now began to grow nettled and enter 
into the spirit of the interview. 

' Then why do you call yourself one, sir ? ' 

' I have to ask your pardon, I do not,' says Van 
Tromp, as grand as the Pope. 

But nothing was of avail against the Squire. 

' You sail under false colours from beginning to 
end,' he said. ' Your very house was taken under a 
sham name.' 
362 



BATTLE ROYAL 

' It is not my house. I am my daughter's guest,' 
replied the Admiral. ' If it were my house ' 

* Well ? ' said the Squire, ' what then ? hey ? ' 

The Admiral looked at him nobly, but was silent. 

'Look here,' said Mr. Naseby, 'this intimidation 
is a waste of time ; it is thrown away on me, sir ; it 
will not succeed with me. I will not permit you 
even to gain time by your fencing. Now, sir, I 
presume you understand what brings me here.' 

' I am entirely at a loss to account for your 
intrusion,' bows and waves Van Tromp. 

' I will try to tell you, then. I come here as a 
father ' — down came the riding whip upon the table 
— ■' I have right and justice upon my side. I under- 
stand your calculations, but you calculated without 
me. I am a man of the world, and I see through 
you and your manoeuvres. I am dealing now with a 
conspiracy — I stigmatise it as such, and I will expose 
it and crush it. And now I order you to tell me 
how far things have gone, and whither you have 
smuggled my unhappy son.' 

'My God, sir!' Van Tromp broke out, 'I have 
had about enough of this. Your son ? God knows 
where he is for me ! What the devil have I to do 
with your son ? My daughter is out, for the matter 
of that ; I might ask you where she is, and what 
would you say to that ? But this is all midsummer 
madness. Name your business distinctly and be off.' 

' How often am I to tell you ? ' cried the Squire. 
'Where did your daughter take my son to-day in 
that cursed pony carriage ? ' 

363 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

' In a pony carriage ? ' repeated Van Tromp. 

' Yes, sir — with luggage.' 

' Luggage ? '—Van Tromp had turned a little 
pale. 

'Luggage, I said — luggage!' shouted Naseby. 
'You may spare me this dissimulation. Where's 
my son ? You are speaking to a father, sir, a father.' 

' But, sir, if this be true,' out came Van Tromp in 
a new key, 'it is I who have an explanation to 
demand. ' 

'Precisely. There is the conspiracy,' retorted 
Naseby. ' Oh,' he added, < I am a man of the world. 
I can see through and through you.' 

Van Tromp began to understand. 

' You speak a great deal about being a father, Mr. 
Naseby,' said he ; 'I believe you forget that the 
appellation is common to both of us. I am at a 
loss to figure to myself, however dimly, how any 
man — I have not said any gentleman — could so 
brazenly insult another as you have been insulting 
me since you entered this house. For the first time 
I appreciate your base insinuations, and I despise 
them and you. You were, I am told, a manu- 
facturer ; I am an artist ; I have seen better days ; 
I have moved in societies where you would not be 
received, and dined where you would be glad to pay 
a pound to see me dining. The so-called aristocracy 
of wealth, sir, I despise. I refuse to help you ; I 
refuse to be helped by you. There lies the door.' 

And the Admiral stood forth in a halo. 

It was then that Dick entered. He had been 
364 



BATTLE ROYAL 

waiting in the porch for some time back, and Esther 
had been listlessly standing by his side. He had 
put out his hand to bar her entrance, and she had 
submitted without surprise ; and though she seemed 
to listen, she scarcely appeared to comprehend. Dick, 
on his part, was as white as a sheet ; his eyes burned 
and his lips trembled with anger as he thrust the 
door suddenly open, introduced Esther with cere- 
monious gallantry, and stood forward and knocked 
his hat firmer on his head like a man about to leap. 

' What is all this ? ' he demanded. 

' Is this your father, Mr. Naseby ? ' inquired the 
Admiral. 

' It is,' said the young man. 

'I make you my compliments,' returned Van 
Tromp. 

< Dick ! ' cried his father, suddenly breaking forth, 
* it is not too late, is it ? I have come here in time 
to save you. Come, come away with me — come 
away from this place.' 

And he fawned upon Dick with his hands. 

* Keep your hands off me,' cried Dick, not mean- 
ing unkindness, but because his nerves were shattered 
by so many successive miseries. 

' No, no,' said the old man, « don't repulse your 
father, Dick, when he has come here to save you. 
Don't repulse me, my boy. Perhaps I have not 
been kind to you, not quite considerate, too harsh ; 
my boy, it was not for want of love. Think of old 
times. I was kind to you then, was I not ? When 
you were a child, and your mother was with us.' 

365 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

Mr. Naseby was interrupted by a sort of sob. Dick 
stood looking at him in a maze. 'Come away,' 
pursued the father in a whisper ; * you need not be 
afraid of any consequences. I am a man of the 
world, Dick ; and she can have no claim on you — 
no claim, I tell you ; and we 11 be handsome too, 
Dick — we'll give them a good round figure, father 
and daughter, and there 's an end.' 

He had been trying to get Dick towards the door, 
but the latter stood off. 

' You had better take care, sir, how you insult that 
lady,' said the son, as black as night. 

*■ You would not choose between your father and 
your mistress ? ' said the father. 

' What do you call her, sir ? ' cried Dick, high and 
clear. 

Forbearance and patience were not among Mr. 
Naseby 's qualities. 

* I called her your mistress,' he shouted, ' and I 
might have called her a ' 

' That is an unmanly lie,' replied Dick slowly. 

< Dick ! ' cried the father, * Dick ! ' 

' I do not care,' said the son, strengthening him- 
self against his own heart ; ' I — I have said it, and 
it's the truth.' 

There was a pause. 

' Dick,' said the old man at last, in a voice that 
was shaken as by a gale of wind, ' I am going. I 
leave you with your friends, sir — with your friends. 
I came to serve you, and now I go away a broken 
man. For years I have seen this coming, and now 
366 



BATTLE ROYAL 

it has come. You never loved me. Now you have 
been the death of me. You may boast of that. Now 
I leave you. God pardon you ! ' 

With that he was gone ; and the three who re- 
mained together heard his horse's hoofs descend the 
lane. Esther had not made a sign throughout the in- 
terview, and still kept silence now that it was over ; 
but the Admiral, who had once or twice moved 
forward and drawn back again, now advanced for good. 

' You are a man of spirit, sir,' said he to Dick ; 
' but though I am no friend to parental interference, 
I will say that you were heavy on the governor.' 
Then he added with a chuckle : ' You began, 
Richard, with a silver spoon, and here you are in the 
water like the rest. Work, work, nothing like work. 
You have parts, you have manners ; why, with 
application, you may die a millionaire ! ' 

Dick shook himself, he took Esther by the hand, 
looking at her mournfully. 

' Then this is farewell,' he said. 

6 Yes,' she answered. There was no tone in her 
voice, and she did not return his gaze. 

' For ever,' added Dick. 

* For ever,' she repeated mechanically. 

' I have had hard measure,' he continued. ' In 
time, I believe I could have shown you I was worthy, 
and there was no time long enough to show how 
much I loved you. But it was not to be. I have 
lost all.' 

He relinquished her hand, still looking at her, and 
she turned to leave the room. 

367 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

' Why, what in fortune's name is the meaning of 
all this ? ' cried Van Tromp. ' Esther, come back ! ' 

' Let her go,' said Dick, and he watched her dis- 
appear with strangely mingled feelings. For he had 
fallen into that stage when men have the vertigo of 
misfortune, court the strokes of destiny, and rush 
towards anything decisive, that it may free them 
from suspense though at the cost of ruin. It is one 
of the many minor forms of suicide. 

' She did not love me,' he said, turning to her 
father. 

■ I feared as much,' said he, ' when I sounded her. 
Poor Dick, poor Dick ! And yet I believe I am as 
much cut up as you are. I was born to see others 
happy.' 

' You forget,' returned Dick, with something like 
a sneer, ' that I am now a pauper.' 

Van Tromp snapped his fingers. 

' Tut ! ' said he ; ' Esther has plenty for us all.' 

Dick looked at him with some wonder. It had 
never dawned upon him that this shiftless, thriftless, 
worthless, spongeing parasite was yet, after all and 
in spite of all, not mercenary in the issue of his 
thoughts ; yet so it was. 

'Now,' said Dick, ' I must go.' 

' Go ? ' cried Van Tromp. ' Where ? Not one 
foot, Mr. Richard Naseby. Here you shall stay in 
the meantime ! and — well, and do something practical 
— advertise for a situation as private secretary — and 
when you have it, go and welcome. But in the 
meantime, sir, no false pride ; we must stay with our 
368 



BATTLE ROYAL 

friends ; we must sponge a while on Papa Van Tromp, 
who has sponged so often upon us.' 

' By God,' cried Dick, ' I believe you are the best 
of the lot' 

'Dick, my boy,' replied the Admiral, winking, 
' you mark me, I am not the worst.' 

' Then why,' began Dick, and then paused. ' But 
Esther,' he began again, once more to interrupt him- 
self. ' The fact is, Admiral,' he came out with it 
roundly now, ' your daughter wished to run away 
from you to-day, and I only brought her back with 
difficulty.' 

* In the pony carriage ? ' asked the Admiral, with 
the silliness of extreme surprise. 

' Yes,' Dick answered. 

' Why, what the devil was she running away from V 

Dick found the question unusually hard to answer. 

' Why,' said he, ' you know you 're a bit of a rip.' 

' I behave to that girl, sir, like an archdeacon,' 
replied Van Tromp warmly. 

'Well — excuse me — but you know you drink,' 
insisted Dick. 

' I know that I was a sheet in the wind's eye, sir, 
once — once only, since I reached this place,' retorted 
the Admiral. ' And even then I was fit for any 
drawing-room. I should like you to tell me how 
many fathers, lay and clerical, go upstairs every day 
with a face like a lobster and cod's eyes — and are 
dull, upon the back of it — not even mirth for the 
money ! No, if that 's what she runs for, all I say is, 
let her run.' 

7—2 a 369 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

' You see,' Dick tried it again, ' she has fancies ' 

' Confound her fancies ! ' cried Van Tromp. ' I 
used her kindly ; she had her own way ; I was her 
father. Besides, I had taken quite a liking to the 
girl, and meant to stay with her for good. But I 
tell you what it is, Dick, since she has trifled with 
you — oh yes, she did though ! — and since her old 
papa's not good enough for her — the devil take 
her, say I.' 

' You will be kind to her at least ? ' said Dick. 

' I never was unkind to a living soul,' replied the 
Admiral. * Firm I can be, but not unkind.' 

' Well,' said Dick, offering his hand, ' God bless 
you, and farewell.' 

The Admiral swore by all his gods he should not 
go. ' Dick,' he said, ' you are a selfish dog ; you for- 
get your old Admiral. You wouldn't leave him 
alone, would you ? ' 

It was useless to remind him that the house was not 
his to dispose of, that being a class of considerations 
to which his intelligence was closed ; so Dick tore 
himself off by force, and shouting a good-bye, made 
off along the lane to Thymebury. 

CHAPTER IX 

IN WHICH THE LIBERAL EDITOR APPEARS AS 
' DEUS EX MACHINA ' 

It was perhaps a week later, as old Mr. Naseby sat 
brooding in his study, that there was shown in upon 

37o 



DEUS EX MACHINA 

him, on urgent business, a little hectic gentleman 
shabbily attired. 

* I have to ask pardon for this intrusion, Mr. 
Naseby,' he said ; ' but I come here to perform a 
duty. My card has been sent in, but perhaps you 
may not know, what it does not tell you, that I am 
the editor of the Thymebwy Star.' 

Mr. Naseby looked up indignant. 

' I cannot fancy,' he said, * that we have much in 
common to discuss.' 

' I have only a word to say — one piece of informa- 
tion to communicate. Some months ago, we had — 
you will pardon my referring to it, it is absolutely 
necessary — but we had an unfortunate difference as 
to facts.' 

' Have you come to apologise ? ' asked the Squire 
sternly. 

' No, sir; to mention a circumstance. On the morn- 
ing in question, your son, Mr. Richard Naseby ' 

' I do not permit his name to be mentioned.' 

* You will, however, permit me,' replied the Editor. 
'You are cruel,' said the Squire. He was right, 

he was a broken man. 

Then the Editor described Dick's warning visit ; 
and how he had seen in the lad's eye that there was 
a thrashing in the wind, and had escaped through 
pity only — so the Editor put it — ' through pity only, 
sir. And oh, sir,' he went on, ' if you had seen him 
speaking up for you, I am sure you would have been 
proud of your son. I know I admired the lad myself, 
and indeed that 's what brings me here.' 

17 1 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

' I have misjudged him,' said the Squire. ' Do 
you know where he is ? ' 

'Yes, sir, he lies sick at Thymebury.' 

' You can take me to him ? ' 

'I can.' 

' I pray God he may forgive me,' said the father. 

And he and the Editor made post-haste for the 
country town. 

Next day the report went abroad that Mr. Richard 
was reconciled to his father and had been taken home 
to Naseby House. He was still ailing, it was said, 
and the Squire nursed him like the proverbial woman. 
Rumour, in this instance, did no more than justice 
to the truth ; and over the sick-bed many con- 
fidences were exchanged, and clouds that had been 
growing for years passed away in a few hours, and 
as fond mankind loves to hope, for ever. Many long 
talks had been fruitless in external action, though 
fruitful for the understanding of the pair ; but at last 
one showery Tuesday, the Squire might have been 
observed upon his way to the cottage in the lane. 

The old gentleman had arranged his features with 
a view to self-command, rather than external cheer- 
fulness ; and he entered the cottage on his visit of 
conciliation with the bearing of a clergyman come to 
announce a death. 

The Admiral and his daughter were both within, 
and both looked upon their visitor with more surprise 
than favour. 

' Sir,' said he to Van Tromp, ' I am told I have 
done you much injustice.' 
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DEUS EX MACHINA 

There came a little sound in Esther's throat, and 
she put her hand suddenly to her heart. 

' You have, sir ; and the acknowledgment suffices,' 
replied the Admiral. ' I am prepared, sir, to be easy 
with you, since I hear you have made it up with 
my friend Dick. But let me remind you that you 
owe some apologies to this young lady also.' 

' I shall have the temerity to ask for more than 
her forgiveness,' said the Squire. ' Miss Van Tromp,' 
he continued, ' once I was in great distress, and 
knew nothing of you or your character ; but I 
believe you will pardon a few rough words to an 
old man who asks forgiveness from his heart. I 
have heard much of you since then ; for you have a 
fervent advocate in my house. I believe you will 
understand that I speak of my son. He is, I regret 
to say, very far from well ; he does not pick up as 
the doctors had expected ; he has a great deal upon 
his mind, and, to tell you the truth, my girl, if you 
won't help us, I am afraid I shall lose him. Come, 
now, forgive him ! I was angry with him once 
myself, and I found I was in the wrong. This is 
only a misunderstanding, like the other, believe me ; 
and, with one kind movement, you may give happiness 
to him, and to me, and to yourself.' 

Esther made a movement towards the door, but 
long before she reached it she had broken forth 
sobbing. 

' It is all right,' said the Admiral ; ' I understand 
the sex. Let me make you my compliments, Mr. 
Naseby. ' 

373 



THE STORY OF A LIE 

The Squire was too much relieved to be angry. 

' My dear,' said he to Esther, ' you must not 
agitate yourself.' 

' She had better go up and see him right away,' 
suggested Van Tromp. 

* I had not ventured to propose it,' replied the 
Squire. ' Les convenances, I believe ' 

i Je men jichej cried the Admiral, snapping his 
fingers. ' She shall go and see my friend Dick. 
Run and get ready, Esther.' 

Esther obeyed. 

' She has not — has not run away again ? ' inquired 
Mr. Naseby, as soon as she was gone. 

' No,' said Van Tromp, ' not again. She is a 
devilish odd girl though, mind you that.' 

' But I cannot stomach the man with the car- 
buncles,' thought the Squire. 

And this is why there is a new household and a 
brand-new baby in Naseby Dower House ; and why 
the great Van Tromp lives in pleasant style upon the 
shores of England ; and why twenty-six individual 
copies of the Thymebury Star are received daily at 
the door of Naseby House. ' 



374